Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography 9781935790549, 9781934542217

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Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography
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Critical Studies in the Humanities Victor E. Taylor, Series Editor This open-ended series provides a unique publishing venue by combining single volumes issuing from landmark scholarship with pedagogy-related interdisciplinary collections of readings. This principle of cross-publishing, placing scholarship and pedagogy side by side within a single series, creates a wider horizon for specialized research and more general intellectual discovery. In the broad field of the humanities, the Critical Studies in the Humanities Series is committed to preserving key monographs, encouraging new perspectives, and developing important connections to pedagogical issues. Proposals for submission should be directed to the Series Editor, Victor E. Taylor, Department of English and Humanities, York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405–7199. Sander L. Gilman, Nietzschean Parody: An Introduction to Reading Nietzsche Sharyn Clough, ed., Siblings Under the Skin: Feminism, Social Justice and Analytic Philosophy Dominick LaCapra, Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Philosopher Gregg Lambert, Report to the Academy (re: the NEW conflict of the faculties) Michael Strysick, ed., The Politics of Community Dennis Weiss, ed., Interpreting Man Jonathan Culler, Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty Geoffrey Galt Harpham, On the Grotesque Steven Connor, Samuel Beckett: Repetition, Theory and Text David D. Roberts, Nothing But History Julia Reinhard Lupton and Kenneth Reinhard, After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis Gregg Lambert, On the (New) Baroque Neil Hertz, The End of the Line John D. Lyons and Stephen G. Nichols, Jr., Eds., Mimesis: From Mirror to Method, Augustine to Descartes Stephen G. Nichols, Romanesque Signs, Revised

ROMANESQUE SIGNS Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography

Stephen G. Nichols

The Davies Group, Publishers

Aurora, Colorado



Copyright © 1983 by Yale University. Copyright © 2010 Stephen D. Nichols, Jr. All rights reserved. No part of the contents of this book may be reproduced, stored in an information retrieval system, or transcribed, in any form or by any means — electronic, digital, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise — without the express written permission of the publisher, and the holder of copyright.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Nichols, Stephen G. Romanesque signs : early medieval narrative and iconography / Stephen G. Nichols, Jr. p. cm. -- (Critical studies in the humanities) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-934542-21-7 1. Literature, Medieval--History and criticism. 2. Narration (Rhetoric)--History--To 1500. 3. History in literature. 4. Chanson de Roland. 5. Pseudo-Turpin. I. Title. PN671.N53 2010 809’.02--dc22 2010019818


For Edith, toujours Mélusine


List of Illustrations


Preface, 2010: Romanesque Identities Preface to original edition


1 The Discourse of History


2 Historia and Theosis



3 Charlemagne Redivivus: From History to Historia 4 Historia and the Poetics of the Passion



5 Roncevaux and the Poetics of Place/Person in the Song of Roland Epilogue









Illustrations Figure 1. St. Pierre, Moissac. Portal. 1100-1130. St. Pierre, Moissac, France. [Tympanum showing Christ-in-Majesty, surrounded by animal representatives of the Evangelists and the twenty-four elders of the Apocalypse]. Figure 2. Christ. Detail from tympanum of south porch portal. St. Pierre, Moissac, France. Figure 3. Four Kings (elders of the Apocalypse), detail from south porch tympanum. St. Pierre, Moissac, France. Figure 4. Giselbertus (active first half 12th century CE). Last Judgment. Ca. 1130. Cathedral St. Lazare, Autun France. Figure 5. Saint-Lazare, Autun. Tympanum (detail): Christ-in-Majesty. (Foto Marburg /Art Resource, NY) Figure 6. Saint-Lazare, Autun. Main portal (detail): Damned soul being taken up for judgement. Figure 7. Reichenau evangelary. Apotheosis of the emperor Otto II (c. 990). Aachen, Cathedral Treasure. Figure 8. Reconstruction of triclinium mosaic of Leo III formerly in Lateran Palace, Rome. Saint Peter bestowing the pallium on Pope Leo III and the vexillum on the emperor Charlemagne (c. 800). Figure 9. Saint Denis (?). Psalter of Charles the Bald: Portrait of Charles (between 842 and 869 c.e.). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. 1152, fol. 3v). Figure 10. Saint Denis (?). Sacramentary. Allegorical representation of the coronation of Charles the Bald flanked by the archbishops of Trèves and Rheims (c. 870). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. 1141, fol 2v). Figure 11. The Palatine Chapel of Aix-la-Chapelle, showing the edicule containing the tomb of Charlemagne. Inscription reads, “Here lies the emperor Charles.” Sketch by Adémar de Chabannes (c. 1020-34). (Vatican Library, MS Lat 263, fol. 235r). Figure 12. Christ-in-Majesty. Godescalc’s evangelary. Aix-la-Chapelle, Palace School (781-83). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. nouv. Acq. 1203, fol 34). Figure 13. Christ-in-Majesty. St. Martin of Tours, or Marmoutier, Gospel Book of Lothair (c. 849-51). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. 266, fol. 2v). Figure 14. Christ enthroned with symbols of the Evangelists. Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France. Figure 15. Charles the Bald on his throne. School of Rheims (c. 870-75). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale) Figure 16. The Emperor (Charlemagne). Late 12th c. Stained glass window. Cathedral, Strasbourg, France. Figure 17. Sarcophagus of Charlemagne (c. 1215). Cathedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Germany. Figure 18. Shrine of Charlemagne. Charlemagne between Pope Leo III and Bishop Turpin. Cathedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Germany. Figure 19. Shrine of Charlemagne. Charlemagne between Pope Leo III and Bishop Turpin. Cathedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Germany.


Figure 20. Relief from the Shrine of Charlemagne. Charlemagne presents the church to the Virgin Mary. Cathedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Germany. Figure 21. Schema of Charlemagne window, Chartres. Figure 22. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panels 1-7. (Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY) Figure 23. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panels 7-13. 8-16! (Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY) Figure 24. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panels 14-24. (Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY) Figure 25. Charlemagne window, lozenge/circle unit. Figure 26. Charlemagne window, septiform cluster. Figure 27. The abbey of Centula/Saint-Riquier, 1673 (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale). Figure 28. Diagrammatic representation of the Turris Sancti Salvatoris at Centula/ Saint-Riquier during the Paschal Mass. Figure 29. Crucifixion, German (ninth century). Figure 30. Crucifixion, Winchcomb Psalter, British (eleventh century). (Cambridge University Library, MS Ff. 1.23. fol. 88r)

Figure 31. “Charlemagne’s dream of Saint James.” The emperor asleep in his Palatine Chapel of Aix-la-Chapelle visited by Saint James. Codex Calixtinus. Vat. Lib. MS Lat. 263, fol. 235. Figure 32. Angel bringing the olifant and Durendal to Charlemagne from God. Rudolf der Stricker / Rudolf von Ems, Weltchronik/Christ-Herre Chronik (fourteenth century). Figure 33. Roland sounding the olifant and slicing the rock in two with Durendal. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panel 19. Figure 34. The Death of Roland. He slays a Saracene with his horn “olifant” and hands his glove to God the Father. Illuminated page from a chronicle (Stricker, Charlemagne). Swabia, early 14th cent. CE. (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Inv. Ms.germ. fol. 623/22verso. Figure 35. Trumpeter (Roland?). South Porch. St. Pierre, Moissac, France.



Preface, 2010: Romanesque Identities When Romanesque Signs first appeared, an astute reviewer concluded her assessment by asking why the book did not discuss ‘Romanesque’ as a period concept. A ready answer would have been to point out that I had not set out to engage the term “Romanesque” per se—with its inevitable connotations of genre and periodization—but rather to show how closely entwined were sacred and secular modes of representation in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In particular, my aim was to show how artists, authors, architects, and preachers turned to performative mimesis to convey a complex message pitched at different levels of comprehension within a growing and diverse public. They were able to do so by combining visual, verbal, gestural, sculptural, processional and architectural modes of representation in ways that had not previously been practiced on so broad a scale…perhaps not even in antiquity. In short, I wanted to highlight the aggressive efforts, beginning in the tenth century, to extend the representation of Christian spirituality into secular spheres. The most effective tool for this purpose lay in the narrative mode of the sacred texts themselves. Scripture incorporates many forms of story telling: chronicle, epic, love poetry, history, genealogy, parable, prophecy, and so on. These modes combine image and ideas, often dramatically, in ways that gripped the imagination of the faithful, allowing them to perceive—sometimes quite vividly—the drama and humanity of biblical figures. At the same time, Scripture put forward rigorous arguments for the truths that were presented. Commentators recognized the hybrid nature of Scripture from an early date, and by the twelfth century, they had settled on three terms to identify these modes: historia, fabula, and allegoria. Historia designated the classical model of history writing based on the paradigm of narrating deeds and words. In the hands of Christian writers, historia represented events in the world in accord with divine intentionality. It was thus an agent of the Logos, whose message, particularly when expressed in the vernacular, was to mediate between Scripture and daily life.1 Fabula named a narrative mode that transposed scriptural and theological principles into stories comprehensible to the faithful. As Peter Dronke notes: “In the early twelfth century, William of Conches and Peter Abelard…go to some lengths to demonstrate that [ fabula] can have a cognitive function and value.”2 “Fable” was thus the term used to convey the special mode of intentionality—or exemplarity—that shapes such narrative. But fabula struggled against its ambivalent name. For those who believed that names designate content, the term, historia, represented an account of events that happened, whereas for many people fabula denoted fiction. The least one can say



about this term, then, is that its history—from the Middle Ages to modernity—is complex. This is so because fabula somehow captures experiences that resonate in our imagination but are not identifiable with tangible reality. For, As Alain Badiou notes, “a ‘fable’ is that part of narrative that…fails to touch on any Real, unless it be by virtue of that invisible and indirectly accessible residue sticking to every obvious imaginary.”3 The Church Fathers used the term allegoria—in the sense of exemplum or teaching4 —to distinguish two kinds of fabulous narrative: a compound mode known as allegoria facti et dicti, “allegory (exemplum) of word and deed,” and a second, simple mode, known as allegoria dicti sed non facti, “allegory (exemplum) of word but not event.”5 While we might think that the compound form represents “reality,” and the simple form, lacking engagement with events in the world, could not “touch upon the Real,” we would be wrong. For we must remember that in the Romanesque worldview, the symbolic is the Real, while lived experience is part of an unrevealed divine plan whose meaning we can only surmise. On this account, “history” is never transparent, but mysterious, and thus requires elucidation. In short, since the compound mode of allegoria facti et dicti recounted the world as event, it was called ‘mystery.’ The simple mode of allegoria dicti sed non facti, on the other hand, posed imaginary scenarios symbolically applicable to everyday life. Both were narrative discourse modes, but the first incorporated ‘real’ historical events, while the second proposed hypothetical scenarios or models for humans.6 Christ’s parables were exemplary fables of this kind, which established an “invisible and indirectly accessible” link with the Real. This is the case, as Jean Scot Eriugena shows, because exemplary allegory (allegoria dicti sed non facti) is symbolic, and thus the bearer of a higher truth than mundane history could ever aspire to. Symbolic exemplarity is akin to theology; it communicates with the ineffable. Whereas the allegory of word and deed calls on graphic images to help the reader “see” events, the symbolic mode engages the imaginary by presenting things that did not occur, but whose story makes a point. These virtual acts appear as though superposed on an ethical grid that allows us to measure the deviation between ethos and nomos. Christ’s parables are paradigmatic cases of allegoria dicti sed non facti. As one might expect, these modes evolved first in Latin, but adapted progressively to the goals of vernacular representation of sacred themes in the twelfth century. While the three approaches overlapped in practice, they were differently suited. Allegoria and fabula enabled theologians like William of Conches and Peter Abelard to fashion critical tools for glossing knotty philosophical points.7 Historia, on the other hand, was suited to political issues like the ongoing territorial struggles between the Muslim world and the Latin West, first in Spain, then in the Eastern Mediterranean after the First Crusade in 1099.



The term even served as title for the Latin chronicle, the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi, also called the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle, after its putative author, a warrior prelate known as Archbishop Turpin. An Old French version of the story dating from the late eleventh century (hence older than the Latin version) was discovered in Oxford in 1833, and published three years later under the modern title, La Chanson de Roland. While nineteenth-century Romanticism extolled the saga of the embattled hero, Roland, fighting alone against the Saracen hordes, the twelfth century envisaged a very different message for the Historia of Roland and Charlemagne. That message defined the integration of a millennial religious doctrine with a novel political regime: the medieval monarchy with imperial ambitions for which Charlemagne served as model. I originally wrote Romanesque Signs not simply to tell that story, but to show the role it played in encouraging a veritable starburst of new forms in plastic art, architecture, ritual, manuscript illumination, epic, chronicle, and lyric poetry. It seemed to me then what much subsequent work has confirmed, namely that the artistic innovations of the twelfth century make sense when viewed as a convergence of religious and political forces in a cultural configuration distinctive to the period. The following chapters endeavor to view the cultural production of the eleventh and twelfth centuries from this perspective. But the fact remains that the history of the term “Romanesque” is fascinating in its own right. The name was coined in the early nineteenth century to designate the period corresponding to the eleventh century and the long twelfth century. The story of how it came to designate this period, and why nineteenth-century Europeans felt the need for a special term deserves a hearing. On the premise that it also complements the story explored in these pages, I’ve included an epilogue that represents my view on “the Roman in the Romanesque.” Baltimore December, 2010



Preface: original edition Eleventh-century Europe had an innovative culture. A germinal period in the history of Western civilization, it established medieval art, historiography, and literature as we recognize them today. In advancing this revitalized world of art and letters, the monks who led the movement were not simply making life more pleasant, more varied, more informed. They had in mind a definite pro­g ram to be fulfilled by art, architecture, and literature. They wanted to make the past present to show that the present belonged to a coherent cosmogony, that it manifested a divine plan of the universe. The key to this plan lay in certain transcendent events in the past, particularly the Christ story, which they interpreted as revealing the whole trajectory of Sal­vation history, from the beginning to the end of the world. They had elaborated a philosophical anthropology, building on the work of philosophers like Saint Augustine, PseudoDionysius, and John Scottus Eriugena, which allowed them to make connections and comparisons between what might appear, to us at least, to be widely divergent domains, events and phenomena. The comparison between history and theology, for example, led to a theory of historical mean­ing with profound implications for the development of narrative. By showing that historical events—including the present—could be represented as resem­bling and thus rephrasing significant past events, notably those found in reli­g ious texts, one might then demonstrate that secular history did indeed belong to Salvation history. Life could then be seen as part of a larger picture, a divine plan, rather than as simply a formless accident. Such a program obviously possessed clear religious and political implica­ tions. The activity of representing history according to this logocentric telos must be seen as a function of the social, institutional, and ideological situation of the monks who initiated it. Although we will not pursue this theme, we must recognize its implications at the outset in order to understand the energy invested in the projects discussed. Specifically, the monks sought to reinforce the concept of Church and State as divinely ordained institutions of social governance by portraying them as bulwarks standing between two worlds: one marked by discontinuity and chaos, one characterized by a historically contin­uous, transcendent order. Narrative obviously played a key role in the effort to historicize the past in the present. Not surprisingly, then, it was one of the areas where renewal may be observed most clearly. In the year 1000, art was still primarily private, lim­ited for the most part to such miniature forms as ivory carvings and book illuminations produced for wealthy aristocrats and ecclesiastics. To all intents and purposes, literature was accessible only to those who read and understood Latin. During



the course of the century, all this changed rapidly, thanks to the emergence of a narrative tradition that sought to develop a discourse whereby the word and the world could be read as texts. The development revitalized the concept of public and monumental art and literature on a scale not seen in the West since Roman times. The historiated sculptural programs we take so much for granted in the decor of Romanesque churches began only toward the end of the eleventh century as part of the plan to make these edifices convey the combined thrust of history and Salvation on the quotidian. By representing biblical stories on the outside of churches, ec­clesiastics merged the concepts of monument and text in an explicit manner that also served to remind the community that biblical stories offered cogent lessons for worldly existence. Literature, in the form of exemplary stories of great leaders, also began to take on “monumental” proportions in terms of length and scope. Chronicles became “universal” histories seeking to recount, sometimes in considerable detail, the events of contemporary history according to a coherent plan. Just as the decor on the exterior of churches and the revival of monumental sculp­ture suggest an awareness of audience, and consequently of an evolving social role for art, so in literature one observes signs which point in the same direc­tion. The development of history-as-story what we might call history-telling, shows a progressive concern for reaching and holding an audience. Ultimately, it led to the adoption of the language of the community, the vernacular, and to a popular narrative mode, the epic, as a vehicle for a new kind of historiated narrative, the chanson de geste. The revitalization of these forms—monumental art, universal history, and epic—in the eleventh century may be seen as a manifestation of a new mode of discourse, a new genre: a peculiarly medieval phenomenon known in Latin as historia and in Old French as estoire. As a word, historia did not originate in the eleventh century. But as a narrative concept, a focal point for themes, forms, attitudes, and assumptions about the reasons for telling stories and the way in which they could and should be told, we do find a new connotation for the term in the period from roughly 1000 to 1150. The following chapters seek to explore different aspects of the mode of dis­ course fostered by historia, from the “universal history” of the late tenth cen­tury to the legendary exploits of Charlemagne and Roland recounted in the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi and the Chanson de Roland late in the eleventh and in the first part of the twelfth centuries. After noting the kind of narrative historia generated, we will see how it encouraged a sacred and heroic view of the monarch as leader in the representation of contemporary kings and emperors like Robert the Pious of France (996-1031) and Otto III of Germany (996-1002). The treatment of contemporary historical figures will help us to understand the reciprocal



phenomenon of the rise and spread of the legend of a great figure from the more remote past, the emperor Charlemagne, who had ruled as king of the Franks and emperor of the West two centuries earlier. Charlemagne became a model for history and politics in the Middle Ages. Consequently, the growth of this legend in the eleventh century is one of the most fascinating aspects of the cultural renewal at this time. Since it was one of the most popular and universal narrative topics of the entire Middle Ages—in history, art, and literature—the legend of Charlemagne provides a perfect laboratory for studying the dialectics of historia. By juxtaposing the Latin leg­end of Charlemagne between contemporary chronicles, on the one hand, and vernacular epic, on the other, we can see how, in all these modes, historia utilizes figurative language to render history as metaphor. But even as we observe the subtle shading from chronicle to prose legend to chanson de geste, we also discover the tensions inherent in this narrative ex­ perimentation; ultimately the poetic discourse of the chanson de geste suc­ceeds more powerfully, at least from our perspective, in rendering the agonistic struggle of the hero. It finally becomes evident why the poetic paradigm, with its capacity to emphasize the ambivalence of thought and desire through the opacity of language, seems more compelling—and ultimately more “histori­cal”—than the programmatic clarity of a didactic narrative. Many colleagues and friends have generously contributed to the evolution of this book by reading portions of the manuscript and making invaluable sug­ gestions at moments that could not have been professionally convenient for them. Charles Wood, Hoyt Alverson, and Kevin Brownlee, in particular, have helped me work out theoretical and methodological problems. Robert Oden assisted me with aspects of biblical scholarship. Marina Brownlee, John Lyons, and Nancy Vickers provided intellectual support and encouragement at crucial stages. The concepts of the book were tested, in part, in two Summer Seminars for College Teachers which I directed under the auspices of the National En­dowment for the Humanities in 1975 and 1978. The enthusiasm and insights of both groups helped me enormously. I am particularly grateful to Roland Pepin of the Community College of Greater Hartford, a 1975 seminar partici­pant, for his translation of the difficult text of a sermon preached in 1064 that appears in chapter 5. Ellen Graham of the Yale University Press took an early interest in the manuscript. She made perceptive suggestions for revisions and supervised a thorough process of review. The book benefited from the meticulous attention of another sympathetic reader, Lawrence Kenney, senior manuscript editor for the Press. Material support for the project came from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which awarded me a fellowship in 1978-79, when most of the writing was accomplished, and Dartmouth College, which’ supported my re­search and



writing at important junctures. I would like to thank Dean Hans H. Penner for arranging publication assistance from Dartmouth. Finally, I want to acknowledge the role of my wife, Edith, to whom this book is dedicated. Without her unique blend of scepticism and supportiveness, the book might have continued to be spoken, rather than written.

S. G. N., Jr.




The Discourse of History Shortly before the year 1000, the writing of history underwent a renascence that had a profound effect on the way Western Europeans viewed their world, not only in and through the writing of history, but also in public and monu­mental art and literature. This new dimension to history writing sought to demonstrate a systematic view of the world from the perspective of a control­ling principle, that of universal history. Universal history aspired to tell the story of the cosmos as a unified and related construct testifying to the continu­ing creative power of the divinity. Scripture provided the model for this view, and a primary purpose for writing history lay in demonstrating the extent to which the physical and social world conformed to the scriptural model, when each was properly understood.1 The desire to view the universe as a teleological whole tends, as M. D. Chenu observes, to presage a general renewal of cultural activity and institu­tions: The first indication of the coming of history in a given cultural cycle is the aware­ness, in a universal or quasi-universal view, of human activity considered as a whole. In the first place there is a noteworthy quantitative enlargement; but this in turn leads, beyond a description of the facts, beyond a recitation—vitae, gesta, an­nales—to still unsophisticated but very intelligent consideration of the ties be­t ween facts. Historical causality becomes perceptible with social awareness. 2

One of the first great historians to give evidence of this renewal was Richer, a monk of Saint-Rémy of Rheims who wrote a fascinating history of his times in the last decade of the tenth century.3 Lost for over eight hundred years, the manuscript came to light again in 1833 in the library of Saint Michael’s mon­astery in Bamberg, Germany. Tendentious and partisan, Richer’s work provides an account of some of the most significant events of its time, such as the political machinations leading to the overthrow of the Carolingian dynasty and the elevation of Hugh Capet to the throne of France. Rheims figured prominently in the political and cul­tural life of the period, and Richer was close to people like Gerbert, archbishop of Rheims from 991 to 998 (later Pope Sylvester II), who participated actively in many of the events described. From its accounts of kings and emperors of Europe at this time to its description of the hardships of travel and the curric­ulum of a monastic school, Richer’s work justly deserves to be called a pre­cious witness to this important period of French history.



Richer begins his story of the “struggles of the Gauls [Franks]” by outlining a vast tripartite schema of the known world, Africa, Asia, and Europe, with the “umbilicus of the earth [Jerusalem]” at its center.4 By a metonymic substi­tution, the significant part of the world that will also be the object of the narrative, namely Gaul, becomes a microcosm of the whole, not simply physi­cally but symbolically. Acknowledging that each of the other parts of the world has its subdivisions, Richer says that only Gaul mirrors the larger universe by its own tripartite division—recognized since Roman times (he takes Julius Caesar as his au­thority)— and the significance of its name, Gallia, which means “whiteness.” Richer “explains” this etymology by referring to a fanciful suggestion by Isi­dore of Seville attributing the name to the fairness of the Gauls, who were noticeably whiter than other peoples in the known world.5 What appears to be simply an external set of facts instead lays the ground­ work for metaphorical and metaphysical constructions. For Richer transforms this eponymous color symbolism from an externally distinguishing trait to a metaphor for inner qualities which assert the special relationship of the Gauls with the Logos. Although the Gauls share with all humans the capacity for unruly behavior, says Richer, they are more readily persuaded to conduct themselves according to the rules of reason. In other words, to place them­selves under the rule of the Logos, the conventional language enunciated by the divinity for the rational ordering of the world.6 The authority for this claim comes from no less a figure than Saint Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate: “Gaul is the only country which has not pro­duced monsters, but has always illuminated the world by wise and learned men.” 7 In a world where Scripture constituted the foundation of all history, no more obvious a signal needed to be given as regards the claims made for the Franks by Richer in these statements. By saying that the Gauls have a special disposition to place themselves under the law, Richer meant that they were more evolved as a people within the universe. We should not be surprised to find an assertion of social evolution based upon the degree of understanding of divine law. Richer and his contemporaries espoused a philosophical anthropology that was both doctrinal—they were Christians— and imbued with doctrines of Christian Platonism. In Richer’s intellectual world, humans who understood and construed by their actions the grammar and syntax of the Logos more completely would, inevitably, demon­strate their greater evolution toward the celestial order of Revelation. For there was, at this time, a progressively emerging consciousness “of the historicity of the Bible, and thus of religious man, a historicity whose principle was the supremacy of God, not only over all the cosmos, but over all earthly events.”8 This viewpoint entailed an anthropology which privileged candor, the Latin term for whiteness, or illumination, precisely the quality Richer ascribed to the



Gauls. The divisions of humanity were based not upon physiological char­acteristics, but upon metaphysical ones which were believed to imprint them­selves on the flesh of individuals as distinctive physical traits. Thus, like the divisions of the earth—and for that matter, the cosmos—”the human race was divided into three kinds according to whether it rejects, par­tially accepts, or totally receives the Revelation: pagan, Jew, and Christian. Pagans become Jews by renouncing sacrifices but retaining circumcision, and eventually Christians ascend from sensible to intelligible symbols by abandoning circumcision.”9 Similarly, by a process of analogizing human history to scriptural history, the evolution of postlapsarian humanity could be cast as a progressive movement of certain humans toward a more perfect capacity for reflecting the Revelation. When Richer underlines the greater capacity of the Gauls for internalizing and expressing the Law, he has behind him a specific program of social selection and election. According to this program, the history of humanity was divided into three purificative-illuminative-perfective stages linking the approach to the ulti­mate truth with the three stages of man’s development: pagan, Jew, and Christian…for the abandonment of idols and revelation of the Father constitute the ascent from paganism to the monotheism of the Law; the abandonment of sacrifices and the revelation of the Son, the ascent from the Law to the Gospel upon which the Church is founded.10

Richer’s history deals with the more recent struggles of the Franks, but he does not fail to mention the evolution of this new elect of God from paganism to Christianity, in accord with the above schema. The “ascent to the Law” took place under the aegis of a religious man, himself illustrative of the per­fective stage of illumination, Saint Rémy (the patron saint of Rheims and thus a direct precursor of Richer’s monastic community). What is more, the adop­tion of the Law coincided with a “brilliant and illustrious victory” under the guidance of their first king, Clovis. Thus, under the leadership of enlightened leaders the Franks ascend from the Law to the Gospel, simultaneously found­ing both the Church and the monarchy.11 Humans were thus seen as signifiers whose value depended upon their abil­ity to imitate more or less clearly—and to demonstrate through their actions interpreted in narrative—a truth at once revealed and hidden in Scripture. Their actions and manner of life could be summed up in histories as witness to their understanding and interpretation of the Law, just as the Hebrew Bible provided a kind of running commentary on the manner in which the Jews adhered to or deviated from the Law at given moments in their history. The purpose of history writing at this time, then, was less to provide an account of events per se than to sum up the acts of leaders and peoples in order to show them as dialectical reflections of divine intention as given in Scripture.12



This helps to explain why the terms used to designate these accounts tend to be polysemous, connoting both deeds and discourse, acts and writing. Richer says that he wants to recount the congressus of the Franks, a word that connotes “social assembly” and “discourse” as well as “hostile encounter.” Now the congressus of a doctrinally grounded social community have a dual purpose: by facing hostility from without, the inner dynamics of the society become more precisely articulated; inevitably, such accounts perform a doubly specular function. They constitute a definite kind of statement about the way the society’s belief structures help to define its sense of purpose and to differentiate it from the rest of the world. In short, they provide a language of societas, of commu­nity, and an image. Similarly, they demonstrate how the transcendent values the society predicates through its belief structures can be refined and tested in response to hostile challenges from outside—and inside—the community. The concept of challenge, of opposition, will be a constant in the narrative forms developed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, along with the idea of a co­hesive but fragile societas. The exposition of the congressus gallorum sought to enhance the self-aware­ ness of the Franks as a divinely privileged group in the order of the cosmos. But it is the conjunction of word and deed, of “act” as gesture and expression projected upon the world as a whole that will form the basis of the narrative: “I will begin the account after having briefly shown the divisions of the globe and the parts of Gaul, since it is the customs and acts [actus] of these people that it is proposed to describe.” “Actus” connoted a particular kind of conjunction between word and deed, referring not only to the aggregate of the acts of a people, the “official” deeds as it were, but also, by association with the book of the Bible, the Actus Apos­tolorum, a narrative of deeds bearing witness to a transcendent truth; the con­firmation of a doctrine in the world expressed through the actions of a socie­tas, and even defining that societas vis-à-vis its congressus with and in the world at large. The Gospel prefaces, particularly those of Luke, made very clear to Richer and his contemporaries that the recording and reading of such deeds helped to affirm and establish the teleological principles justifying the privileged self-image the community held of itself, and to demonstrate by the accumulation of empirical “evidence,” the truth and efficacy of the belief system by which it linked itself to the divine order. Now the problem for the Franks, and for other Europeans, in the year 1000 lay not simply in affirming themselves as a societas linked to the divine order, but also, and more compellingly, in demonstrating their preeminent position in the historical dispensation, the order of time. Other peoples before them had produced monuments showing their position in Salvation history, so now they had not only to tell the story of their own situation as true believers within a hostile world, but also to demonstrate their right to represent them­selves as the legitimate worldly



and spiritual heirs of a religious and temporal authority that had originated in another part of the world with other peoples. The historical continuity they evoked to authenticate their religion also showed that other peoples in other places had been the original interlocutors of divine Revelation. Again Richer instructs us, for he makes a sharp distinc­tion in the history of the Franks prior to the baptism of Clovis, when they were, so to speak, nameless and in a void: “the histories report that all these peoples [hos omnes populos], intrepid by nature, were fortunate in their un­dertakings even though they were pagans” (I, 3). In this early stage of its existence, the community was inchoate as such, without name (“hos omnes populos”) or special place. The baptism of Clovis, “the first Christian king,” by Saint Rémy, at Rheims, changed all that: after him there was a Christian state, in a specific place, with its own succession of eminent emperors (the Carolingians) down to the present, 888, where Richer’s own universal history can begin: “After [Clovis] their state was governed through successive periods by illustrious emperors up to Charles, with whom we shall begin our histories” (I, 3). Richer’s account opens with a transfer of power by divine intervention in the sacred past—the baptism of Clovis, which established the Franks as a privileged Christian societas—and it will recount another transfer of power from the Carolingian dynasty to the Capetian, again seen as a response to and strengthening of the destiny of the Franks. We cannot but perceive a contra­diction in the insistence upon continuity on the one hand: the succession in history of a divinely ordained state ruled by illustrious emperors; and, on the other, an assertion for the necessity of change: of transferal and renewal not just from one dynasty to another, but in time—from the ancient times to the present, from the present to the future—and place—from one part of the world to another, and from one people to another. This apparent contradiction provides the starting point for our inquiry into the nature of narrative in the period from 1000 to 1150. For the accounts of a Richer, or his contemporary historians, do not simply concern themselves with a succession of worldly events. Their narratives imply, indeed insist, that worldly events incorporate a dialectic with the transcendent powers they be­lieved to shape their world. Thus the narrative of worldly events as a kind of proof or demonstration of the entelechy of a privileged group of believers, struggling to define themselves in a hostile world, provides a constant theme for the rhetorically grounded, historical storytelling that evolved during this period, ultimately defining and characterizing what we call the Romanesque.14 What precisely do we find as a general descriptive principle underlying this apparent contradiction of continuity and change, of dynamic stasis that Richer and others assert so pointedly? First, there is a recognition of the universality of the Logos as a discourse which shapes and transforms the material world. A principle transcending space and time, it takes as a given the ongoing nature of creation.



Consequently, this dialectic demonstrates a flexible and dynamic capacity for inclusion and exclusion to its center of meaning. Thus groups originally incorporated within the dialectic might, with the passage of time, be excluded, while new groups, like the Franks, might be included or even incorporated as privileged interlocutors. But such change always stresses the continuity of the new with the old, just as Richer likens the tripartite nature of the Gauls, their history, and their land to the tripartite nature of the earth, with Jerusalem, the umbilicus, at the center. This logocentric dialectic, with its capacity to universalize and set apart its subjects from the rest of humanity, originated in the Hebrew Bible when Yah­weh distinguished the Jews by means of direct and privileged discourse. From the beginning, then, this discourse tended to be one of differentiation, both in metaphysical and worldly terms. It served to reinforce, in various ways, the specialness of the group, its identity and the relationship of that identity with a specific territory. All of these traits occur from the outset of Richer’s narra­tive, where, besides localizing his story very specifically in place and time, he also apologizes in advance for being obliged occasionally to talk about the deeds of other peoples.15 Such a warning should serve to remind us of the intensely spiritual quality of symbolling activity at this time. The purpose of such narrative was not to inform people more accurately about their world and neighbors, but to show how the world mirrored God’s immanence, and therefore the subordination of the human to the divine. “The characteristics of the Romanesque period,” M.-M. Davy reminds us, “come down to two basic principles: unity and the sense of God’s presence.”16 The authority by which narrative discourse could connect the physical and the metaphysical in this way lay in certain Christian Neoplatonic tenets of the period. Not only did these tenets begin to inform historical narrative, but they did so selfconsciously. Again, Davy recalls the eclecticism of the mo­nastic movement of the period, which looked beyond Europe to the East, par­ticularly to the doctrines of christianism, for much of its symbolic language.17 We need not go beyond the historians themselves, however, to see this mo­ nastic taste for theology manifested. Richer shows a lively interest in the theo­ logical debates of his time and devotes whole chapters to what purport to be verbatim accounts of such disputes. One of these was even held at the imperial court with the emperor Otto II acting as arbiter. Richer came by this fascination for theological thinking naturally, for he was schooled by the most learned man of his time, Gerbert of Aurillac, the chief protagonist in many of the debates recorded by Richer, and the man to whom he dedicated the Historiae. Archbishop of Rheims from 991 to 998, then of Ravenna, Gerbert became Pope Sylvester II in 999. In choosing the name he did as pope, Gerbert himself was engaging in symbolic predication. His namesake, Sylvester I (314–35), together with Constantine the Great, had transformed the Roman Empire from an instrument of oppression of the Chris­tian religion into



the most powerful and extensive Christian imperium the world has ever known. This victory had confirmed the triumph of Christ over the Romans, from the medieval perspective, and symbolized the New Alliance of God with Christianity. It also established the concept of the empire as a form of divine monarchy. In 999, Gerbert clearly hoped to renew this germinal moment, building upon the legend of Charlemagne, as we shall see in chap­ter 3. Gerbert’s contemporaries perceived him as an extraordinary person, a man­ ifestation of God’s discourse with humanity. Richer did not hesitate to see in Gerbert both an emissary of God and a metaphor for divine light: “the Divin­ity himself sent Gerbert, a man of great intellect and marvelous speech, who later made all Gaul bright like a shining light.”18 A few lines later, he again stresses Otto II’s discovery of Gerbert while still a young man as a proof of the divine intention to illuminate with a great light a Gaul shrouded in darkness. We shall better understand the importance of the repeated references to in­ telligence as illumination, “the light of the Word,” later on. For the moment, we need note only that more than any other man of his time—and by the testimony of his contemporaries, from simple clerks to emperors—Gerbert illustrated an ideal whereby the universe could be taken as a symbolic whole, a unified hierarchy with God as the beginning and ending of creation. In effect, the world could be read as a text, written in a literal or natural language by a creator who had encoded his generative presence within the creation. One had thus to “read” the world as a literal construct, but construe it symbolically to discover the immanent meaning. Gerbert’s own career consistently mingled the literal and the figurative, the material and the intellectual. While still an archdeacon at Rheims in the 980s, Gerbert’s reputation as an eminent logician led him to be employed on diplomatic missions by both the king of France and the emperor Otto II. In the same period, he headed the cathedral school at Rheims, which he raised to a position of preeminence.19 Richer devotes much of book 3 of the Historiae to the cur­riculum and pedagogy of Gerbert’s school, so we have a good idea of the im­portance accorded to the Greek fathers by Gerbert and his circle. From letters exchanged between the archbishop and his pupil Emperor Otto III we know that the latter even aspired to personify Greek ideals in his person, as ruler and humanist.20 This esteem should not surprise us, for it was in the philosophy of such thinkers as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor that the concept of symbolic forms so important to Romanesque expression was to be found in some of its purest examples.21 Pseudo-Dionysius enjoyed a special prestige in France at this time, since he was still identified with Saint Denis, the first Christian martyr and patron saint of France. The writings of these men had been available in France, both in Greek manuscripts and in the Latin adaptation of the ninthcentury monk John Scottus Eriugena, for over a cen­tury by the time Gerbert began teaching at Rheims.22



Pseudo-Dionysius taught that the symbolic reading of the world was the path of ascension by which humans might comprehend the way in which the lower, material world reflected the celestial world of true essences. What linked the two was not the materiality, the form, but the meaning; in effect, the significant content of the world represented divine language veiled: The sensible universe is, objectively speaking, that part of the universe which is accessible to the sense, and as such could be the concern of the senses only. But once it is impregnated with the logoi as a consequence of the Divine creative activ­ity [proodos], it becomes a world of symbols. The raison d’ être of a symbol does not reside in its sensible matter which confines it to a corner of space and time, but in its significant content. 23

In seeing the world as the veiled language of the creative principle, this the­ology sought to penetrate the materiality in order to evoke the significance. And yet, in starting with the material, localized in space and time, the sym­bolic theology provided an excuse for history as an important point of depar­ture, a defining of the space and time in which the particular form of symbolic speech occurred. For, if the content of divine language remained unvaried, its signification, eternal, the form nevertheless adapted itself to changing times and places. So in order to read the symbolic language, one had first to recognize the various forms it had been translated into. To see how these ideas germinated and spread, we could perhaps find no clearer expression of this symbolic hermeneutics than the opening remarks of the Historiae sui temporis of Rodolphus Glaber, who wrote an even more am­bitious history than Richer’s some forty years later. Rodolphus’s work shares many of the same concerns as Richer’s, including an admiration for Gerbert of Aurillac/Sylvester II. Coming at a later date, more than a quarter of the way into the eleventh century, it shows how the ideas expressed by the earlier gen­eration have transformed the discourse of history beyond Richer’s conception. Rodolphus was a monk at the immensely powerful Abbey of Cluny, in Bur­ gundy. In the eleventh century Cluny was at the center of an international movement to restore prestige and influence to the monastic ideal, a fact which helps to explain the scope of Rodolphus’s project as well as his pedagogical concerns. I respond to the just complaints of our studious brothers as to why no one exists in our day who will pass on to the people who come after us, some kind of account of the multiplicity of events, hardly inconsequential, which appear to be happening both in the Church and among the people, especially since the Savior says that until the final hour of the final day, working with the Holy Spirit, he will, together with the Father, continually bring about new things in the world.24

Yves Christe and M. F. Hearn, in two recent books dealing with the problem of symbolic form in Romanesque art, have pointed out Rodolphus’s indebted­ness



to the thought of the Greek Christian Platonists as transmitted through the writings and translations of Eriugena, “dont Cluny détenait alors la ma­jeure partie.”25 They did not concern themselves, however, with the conse­quences of this influence on the emerging concept of historia as a translation of the symbolic language of the Trinity working in the world. There is nothing tentative in Rodolphus’s assertion that historia constitutes a dialectic whereby the multiplicity of events at the microcosmic level of hu­man action in place and time (“multiplicia haec…tam in Ecclesiis Dei, quam in plebibus”) may be translated into the unity of divine creativity viewed from the universal perspective. Rodolphus’s sense of assurance may well have come from the Eriugenian texts so assiduously studied at Cluny during this period. Given Rodolphus’s purpose, Eriugena would have been the logical authority since, as John Marenbon recently pointed out, Eriugena’s work stood at the center of the development and dissemination of ideas regarding essence and universals in the tenth and eleventh centuries.26 And Eriugena certainly does help us to understand the importance of Rodolphus’s conception of historia as symbolic form. Scottus Eriugena employed a geographic metaphor to describe the relation­ ship and functions of history and theology. Historia he compared to a deep valley in which events could take place without the participants being able to see beyond the immediate situation. Theologia (at that time the equivalent of philosophy) occupied the loftiest peak above the mountain valley. From this summit, it was possible to survey what was going on below and to connect it to the rest of the universe. Linking the two was the eagle, Scripture, particu­larly in the form of the Gospel according to John, considered the purest expres­sion of the Logos.27 Besides the obvious point that historia provides an occasion for continuing interpretative dialogue between events in the world and their symbolic mean­ing—an assertion that only the universal view may correctly explain particu­lar events—we find something else: the valorization of the particular. Historia assumes an important role as interlocutor with theologia, for without the events on the valley floor, the significance of the view from the summit cannot be demonstrated. It is not just the vertical dimension that matters here, the ascent from sensible matter to significant content as in Pseudo-Dionysius, but also the horizontal view, the scope of the action that occurs in the valley. Historia now begins to emerge as a specific kind of writing, a literary genre, reproducing the world as text to be read and interpreted in the here and now, the valley, as it were. Events could then be narrated in a referential discourse that did not take phenomenal reality as its object of imitation, but the texts of Scripture and theology. In other words, historia did not seek to describe events as they were, but to transform them into texts paralleling those of Scripture and theology in order to complete the dialectic of Revelation. For Scripture was veiled truth; it could only be understood, as we shall see, with effort, an effort to separate the imperfect



reflections of the sensible world from the Truth.28 Historia was now to become an ancillary to the hermeneutics of the Logos, helping people to understand it and how it related to their world. With Rodolphus, the principle of starting with the here and now becomes central to this hermeneutics: First, it must be shown that although the recorded flow of years from the origin of the world according to the histories of the Hebrews differs from that of the septu­agint, yet we can be certain that the year 1002 of the Incarnation of the Word is the first of the reign of Henry, king of the Saxons, and that the year 1000 of the Lord was the thirteenth of the reign of Robert, king of the Franks. These two princes were considered to be the most Christian and the most powerful in our world on this side of the sea. The first, that is Henry, subsequently acceded to the Roman Empire. Therefore we established the sequence of times from the remembrance of these men.29

We can already see in this statement the theoretical assumptions which made historia a rewriting, rather than an imitation of phenomenal reality.30 Sacred history and historia combine to demonstrate the principle of conti­nuity and change, of translatio by which the multiplicity of events in the world could be shown to be part of divine intentionality. The passage asserts the existence of two successive orders in the world since the beginning of time. The first was a mediated order represented on the one hand by the He­brew historiae of the Jews, then by the Septuagint, an attempt by seventy or seventy-two scholars to establish an “authoritative” Greek text of the Hebrew Bible. This order, and its texts, fail to establish a precise temporal sequence. The implication, clearly, is that this mediated order is unreliable, in compari­son with the new order established by the Incarnation of the Word. Certitude in time and history began, Rodolphus asserts, with this unme­ diated act of divine discourse by which the Logos assumed human form. De­spite the passage of a millennium—the very preciseness of the time lapse from one event to the other contrasts with the fuzziness of the chronology of the old order—the certitude continued to be reinforced by the existence of Chris­tian kings and the continued existence of the Roman Empire. Rodolphus appeals thus to the present to confirm the continuing efficacy of the sacred past. We can hardly miss the reference to the concept of translatio imperii (trans­ ference of the empire), the carrying forward from past to present of “the myth of ancient Rome and Christian Rome locked together,” as M. D. Chenu so felicitously defines it.31 Translatio imperii became a central element in the theology of history in the twelfth century, and we shall certainly have occasion to see its influence at work. Still, the main emphasis in this passage does not fall upon the question of the continuation of the empire, or even on the empire per se. The main em­phasis falls upon Henry and Robert, what they become, how they are per­ceived, and what may be established from this. Rodolphus does not count the time from their



birth as humans, but rather from their advent in history as kings and emperor. The elevation to the throne is an event that almost seems to constitute a “translation,” an “incarnation” paralleling the advent of Christ in history. The latter is, in fact, the event compared to it. Their intervention in history as reges et imperator establishes a terminus a quo for Rodolphus’s historia just as Christ’s advent does for sacred history: and the two have here been placed in parallel. Rodolphus seems to suggest that these men have been elevated to a position where they resemble or imitate Christ; that is, from which they can demon­ strate in their situation, as Christ did in his, the principles of the Logos. In other words, a human gesture of ascent that reciprocates the divine descent. The idea of the Incarnation as a gesture intended to engender a human re­sponse had been advanced by Augustine, Maximus the Confessor, and Eri­ugena. The phrase from John 1:14, “Et uerbum caro factum est” (and the Word was made flesh) was meant, Eriugena held, to encourage a dialectic that would result in a reciprocal gesture of ascent by humans acting through the grace of the Logos: “The Word descended into man in order that, through it, man could raise himself to God.”32 But he would have to do this by studying the world into which the Word descended and the Scripture. Rodolphus espouses a complementary version of this hermeneutics of the world and word when he goes on, immediately after the passage quoted above, to offer a summary of the theory underlying his historia. This theory stresses the possibility for the individual to ascend to a knowledge of the unity of God, by finding how the multiplicity and diversity of material things really do con­stitute a coherent whole. God created such diversity of shapes and forms, Ro­dolphus maintains, “so that by means of what the eyes see and the soul un­derstands, the learned man [homo eruditus] might be raised to a simple understanding of the divinity.”33 It was the Greek fathers, he says, who were particularly adept at this hermeneutics of the world. He then outlines a theory of the world as a higher and a lower order, the higher being equated with the intelligible and the lower with the material or sensual. By a symbolic concordance of the elements constituting the material world—fire, air, water, earth—with the creative virtues forming the intelli­gible world—prudence (prudentia), courage ( fortitudo), measure (temperantia), justice ( justitia)—the two worlds can be made to reflect each other with per­fect symmetry. Scripture provides the connection between the two worlds, allowing people to see the coherence of the Logos running through both. This occurs by a third metaphoric transformation which equates the elements of the material world and the virtues of the intelligible with the mystical sense of Scripture: The Gospel according to Matthew contains a mystical image ( figura) of earth and justice, for it demonstrates more openly than the others the substance of the flesh of Christ as man. The one according to Mark gives an image (species)



of measure and of water, since it shows how penitence flows measuredly from the baptism of John; Luke’s shows the similarity of air and courage, for it is diffuse in space and strengthened by many stories (historiae). The one according to John is linked to ether, source of fire and prudence, since it expresses manifestly the form ( forma) [of fire and prudence], whence a simple knowledge and faith in God may be intro­duced.34

And so, by starting from the material world, with the events in the valley of historia, the individual gradually ascends to the summit of the intelligible world where he once again encounters John’s Gospel, the “Voice of the Eagle” in Eriugena’s phrase, which soars into the ether. This ascent involves three movements of the soul in a vertical dialectic. Starting with the four senses that help to identify the elemental world, the individual then moves within himself by means of reason, in a step midway between the material and the intelligible world. Ultimately, he goes beyond the bounds of reason, to enter the world of intellect, the superessential world of Idea. At this point, the purpose of this movement of ascent, its reward, becomes manifest. For the individual has succeeded in reproducing, but in reverse order, the creative motion of the Trinity, descending from the super-essential to the essential realms to manifest its activity in the world. By this strenuous re-creative hermeneutic, the individual returns toward the origin of all things, toward, as Rodolphus insists, God. Eriugena’s philosophical anthropology had a special term for this mystical conjunction of the ascending individual with the descending godhead: theosis. This manifestation of God in humans—the deification of the creature—was the logical result of the vertical dialectic Rodolphus outlines. It happened only to those privileged beings who engaged in the ascent toward divine condescen­sion, and, for the purposes of historia, we shall see that such beings were either prelates— especially prelate saints—or the kind of kings and emperors, like Robert and Henry, whom Rodolphus took as the terminus a quo for his histo­riae. The choice of these men was not gratuitous. In the next chapter we shall witness the narrative of theosis of one of them, Robert the Pious. In subse­quent chapters we shall see how the concept could be extended to legendary heroes fighting to preserve divine and royal order: heroes like Roland, Charle­magne’s nephew, and William of Orange, the protector of Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious. For the early part of the eleventh century, however, the nar­rative possibilities of theosis were confined to the beings of king and saint. Sheldon-Williams summarized Eriugena’s concept of theosis as a reciprocal dialectic in a manner that explains very nicely the demonstration Rodolphus provides: This process of conversion and the constitution of grace . . . is enacted not only in humanity in general but in every individual who reflects the Trinity in the three “motions” of the soul—intellect, reason, and sense. In the return, sense



is absorbed into intellect which is both the first motion of the soul and her perfection, in which once unified she is caught up into the deity in theosis.35

At the close of his theoretical summary, Rodolphus provides a rather beau­tiful statement of the same concept when he describes how, as a result of this arduous hermeneutic, the individual participates in the divine procession and return. He shows how the created reflects the creator through the motion of the soul away from and back toward the primordial principle. He resorts to an Eriugenian oxymoron, “immutable motion” (stabilis motus), to capture the moment of conjunction when the soul in motion meets and reflects the mo­tionless deity and theosis occurs. These most evident connections between things preach God clearly, beautifully, and silently; for with an immutable motion, each one in turn signifies the other in itself, and in proclaiming the primordial principle from which they proceed, they ask to come to rest there once more.”

In this passage, Rodolphus illustrates how the reader of the world-text may discover the divinity through this hermeneutic, just as Eriugena had shown how it might be done. Eriugena in fact says that this interpretive reading re­covers at once the name of God and his activity in the world-as-text. Note how Eriugena also insists on the oxymoron—here troped as a chiasmus—”mo­tus stabilis et status mobilis.” But when [Theos] is derived from the verb [theo] it is correctly interpreted “He who runs,” for he runs throughout all things and never stays but by his running fills out all things, as it is written. “His word runneth swiftly.” And yet he is not moved at all. For of God it is most truly said that he is motion at rest and rest in motion [uerissime dicitur motus stabilis et status mobilis]. For he is at rest unchangingly in himself, never departing from the stability of his nature; yet he sets himself in motion through all things in order that those things which essentially subsist by him may be. For by his motion all things are made.37

Rodolphus’s confidence in the possibility of bridging the gap between his­tory and Scripture, time and eternity, man and God, derives from the specular confrontation in which humans become a microcosm of the universe: “For the substance of his life is called by the Greek philosophers [microcosmos], that is, ‘little world.’”38 Rodolphus thus bases his concept of narrative on a met­onymic mechanism capable of equating the changing face of actuality—”the diversity and multiplicity of things,” as he puts it—into the unchanging, eter­nal order, a mechanism capable of embracing both history and Scripture and of showing how they must necessarily signify one another. It is a containing image, a specular reflection of humanity situated, in per­ spective, within the larger order of the universe. As developed by classical



philosophers and adapted in Christian Neoplatonism, by Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus, Eriugena, among others, it expresses the concept of the phenomenal world as microcosm, the minor mundus, whose features and principles corre­spond to the macrocosm of universe created by God. In a long article which still remains fundamental to the subject, Rudolph Allers catalogued the different kinds of microcosmic theories that flourished from ancient times to the sixteenth century.39 According to his classification, the theory that establishes a metonymic relationship between art and society, indeed art and the universe, would be called a “holistic” microcosmic theory. Such a holistic theory postulates a continuum from part to whole such that any one manifestation of event-in-the-world may be taken as a relatum illus­trative of the entire world order, and vice versa. The argument runs as follows: humans create order around them. They do so in a twofold manner: (a) by establishing a well-ordered society, and (b) by expressing their idea of order in art, in the widest sense of the term, incorpo­rating all kinds of symbolling activity. The frame of reference being whole units, one speaks of a holistic microcosmic theory.40 Cosmos is here interpreted as “organized order,” that is, the order of any organized entity, and “rests on the fundamental conviction that the order of any somewhat orderly (‘organized’) entity is always and everywhere essen­tially of the same kind.”‘ In other words, all of the constructs on the contin­uum “correspond to one another not only in the general and formal sense that they are, all of them, ordered in some way, but in the strict sense that they are, each in its particular manner, representatives or, better, manifestations, con­cretizations of the one selfsame order. There is but one order, and whatever is ordered there is so according to one principle.”42 We can see how eleventh-century historia could organize itself so that the most apparently disparate events might be made to reflect the creative Word because if the idea of an all-pervading and throughout identical order is consistently fol­lowed-up, every being appears as “mirroring” the structure of the whole, and ac­cordingly, also of every constituent part. Every substantial whole then becomes a microcosmos, even though the universal order may be more perfectly and more completely realized in one being (or construct) than another.43

The roles of narrative and author assume an obvious importance here be­cause it is through the author’s construction of the narrative that the met­onymic relationships described above will be made clear. The narrative will be required to demonstrate that objects or, more usually, events-in-the-world have three values: the literal, the symbolic, and the anagogic, and that the significance of any event will be incomplete until the multiple values have been demonstrated. Put in a slightly



different way, the accidental appearance of events-in-the-world must be shown to have, in reality, an intentional deep structure which may then be related to the intentionality of the universe. In other words, historia as narrative would seek to represent divine utterance as Cause or Reason: The reasons of all things, as long as they are understood in the nature of the Word, which is superessential, I judge to be eternal. Whatever has substantial being in God the Word must be eternal, since it is simply the Word Itself. My inference, therefore, is that the Word Itself and the manifold and primal Reason of universal creation are one and the same. We can also express ourselves in this way: The simple and manifold primal Reason of all things is God the Word. By the Greeks, It is called Logos, that is, “Word, Reason, or Cause.”44

This formulation postulates a closed narrative system in the image of the “holistic” microcosm it serves to record. Again, Rodolphus’s theory and Eri­ugena’s philosophy show that within the narrative system, Scripture holds the place of the higher world in the microcosmic system, while historia represents the equivalent of the lower world. Although the system presupposes a recip­rocal exchange, the interlocutors do not hold positions of equality, any more than they do in the corresponding specular confrontation between humans and the divinity. Thus historia, like the individual human, represents the specific application of Scripture to a particular place and time; it makes manifest the applicability of a general or universal truth or virtue expressed by Scripture but in a specific situation. Lying beyond the particular, Scripture lends au­thority and truth status to the historia that evokes it. Precisely because historia renders explicit the scriptural basis for everyday reality, it must, as narrative, internalize Scripture and articulate the world view to which it gives rise, just as the individual must strive to internalize the same creative virtues in his ascent toward the enlightenment of theosis. As a narrative system, then, historia was a “directed vision” of the world: an image of the force of Scripture on everyday reality demonstrating how God’s word shaped the universe, how, in the words of anthropologist Clifford Geertz, it synthesized “the audience’s ethos—the tone, character, and quality of their life, its moral and aesthetic style and mood—and their world view—the pic­ture they had of the way things in sheer actuality were, their most comprehen­sive ideas of order.45 In the next chapter we shall see how Rodolphus implemented his theory of historia in two important kinds of narrative. The first demonstrates how translatio and theosis combine to give us the story of the sacralization of a place, Orléans, showing why and how it became a sacred locus, linked by translatio to Jerusalem, the umbilicus terrae, and thus the seat of King Rob­ert’s monarchy—that same Robert cited by Rodolphus in his preface as one of the two special beings worthy enough, along with Christ, to help establish the succession of time in his Historiae.



The second of the two examples builds upon and extends the ideas devel­oped in the first. The latter, more preoccupied with place than person, may be seen as static, while the second, which also takes place in Orléans, appears more dynamic. It constitutes a narrative of persons, showing the encroach­ment of the “hostile world”—think of Richer’s congressus gallorum—not only on the Franks as a whole, but also its penetration to the very center of the Frankish society: the seat of the monarchy at Orléans, whose sacred value and resonance are carefully established in the first example. The drama and horror of this second account will emerge from the way King Robert rises to the challenge to save France and the Church by an extraordi­nary act which inscribed him, and his adversaries, in the discourse of history. Together, these two accounts form a paradigm of historia as narrative dis­course which will help us, in subsequent chapters, to understand more clearly the rhetorical basis and structure of Romanesque art and literature.

2 Historia and Theosis The three Gospel accounts of Christ’s Transfiguration on the mountain1 em­phasize the transformation of his garments, described as shining with unearthly whiteness: “And his clothes became shining, excessively white, like snow, whiter than any fuller on earth could make them” (Mark 9:2). John Scottus Eriugena called the Transfiguration “the height of spiritual vi­sion.”2 In the Ambigua, which Eriugena translated and commented,3 Maximus the Confessor interpreted the white garments as a translatio into symbolic language of the dialectic of Transfiguration, revealing its status as a narrative of human understanding. The account did not just concern Christ, Maximus said; it also showed why and how the disciples, Peter, James, and John, were exemplary humans: why they merited the grace of participating in a dialogue with the deity. As Maximus saw it, the revelation made manifest their comprehension of the coherence of the created world and Scripture as a single text, a conjoint discourse act focused on a single meaning: the manifold made one. Now if the scene represented in sensible symbol the descent of the Logos, it also illus­trated the reciprocal of that descent: the ascent by Peter, James, and John to an understanding of this discourse. It was thus a narrative of their theosis: By means of the white garments they received a revelation of what they had learnt from the great works of creation and from the Scriptures as a single truth, and so in their contemplation [epignosei] of God they beheld that which the Holy Spirit re­vealed in Scriptures and that which their science and wisdom had taught them about the created universe as one, and in that unified vision they saw Christ him­self.4

The white garments turn out to be doubly significant as a trope. They rep­resent the natural world invested or clothed first by the symbolic discourse of the Logos— the “ego sum lux mundi” of John 8 : 12—and secondly by the “sci­ence and wisdom” of human intellection. In each case, historiated narrative—the three accounts of the mountaintop theophany—provides the point of de­parture for the troping. In what must be the best-known passage of his Historiae, certainly one of the most often quoted, Rodolphus Glaber appropriated the image of the white garments of the Transfiguration, including the extended meaning provided by Maximus and Eriugena. In Rodolphus’s interpretation, the white garments be­ came the “language” by which Christ clothes the world in the present age: that is, the Church. Since unmediated transfigurations could not occur in that present



temporal order, an indirect language had to be found to express the same things. So the metaphor of the “white garments” permitted Rodolphus to distinguish the varying degrees of openness or directness in the language of Scripture, as opposed to the more opaque language of historia. Both were veiled, but not equally so. Rodolphus’s white mantle of churches represents the indirect language of Christ, spoken through symbolic acts requiring a commentary appropriate for the present historical age of the Christian Imperium Romanorum. This is meant to be compared to the more direct revelation of the Logos, “Christ’s shining white garments,” in the scriptural age of unmediated Transfiguration. At the approach of the third year following the year 1000, it was possible to see almost everywhere in the world, but particularly in Italy and Gaul, the reconstruc­tion of church buildings, even though the greater part of them, very well con­structed, did not need rebuilding. A spirit of generous piety motivated each Chris­tian community to have a more sumptuous one than that of its neighbors. One might have said that the world itself stirred to shake off its old garment in order to cover itself everywhere with a white cloak of churches. At that time, almost all the churches of the episcopal seats, those of the monasteries consecrated to all kinds of saints, and even small village chapels were built more beautifully by the faithful.5

The siting of this passage intensifies the significations of the subtended Transfiguration texts and commentaries. It occurs at the midpoint of the whole work, in book 3, chapter 4, which is also the midpoint of this third book, devoted in part to demonstrating how King Robert and the Emperor Henry at once range through their world, as “God’s word runs through it,” according to Eriugena, while yet remaining firm, stabilizing forces in the cen­ter of their kingdoms, or microcosms. A related symmetry situates the beginning of the era of church building—a symbolic way of signifying the imposition of ecclesiastical order on the world—with the concordant monarchic and imperial order revealed by Rodol­phus’s Historiae. His preface, we saw, dates this event from the year 1002, the date of Henry II’s accession to the imperial throne. Throne and Church con­jointly signified the order of the created world and the sacred order of Scrip­ture; narrating them as “a single text”—to use Maximus the Confessor’s felic­itous image—was the principal performative function of historia; the equivalent, as it were, to the “whiteness” of revelation in the story of the Transfiguration. Accordingly, the accounts of the reconstruction of churches—especially those destroyed by the intervention of external manifestations, either natural or human, of the “hostile world”—will be linked, in Rodolphus’s narrative symmetry, with accounts of the “reconstruction” of the faith. That is, the rescue and preservation of orthodox belief from internal menaces to its unity in the form of heresy. As we shall see, heresy takes on a new dimension as a menace in this period. Because of the political ramifications of the deification of the monarch—which we shall follow



closely in this and the following chapter—heresy seri­ously threatened the coherence of the political as well as the ecclesiastical order. It was not simply a matter for theologians. By destroying the basis on which the holistic microcosmic order had been erected, it could quite literally destroy the image of the world. And so heresy became a matter for the king, or at least King Robert, to deal with. The consequences of this change, both in what it tells us about the emergent concept of kingship and in the narrative possibilities it opens up for portraying the king and his tributaries as defenders of the faith, were not negligible; they led directly to a vigorous experimentation with historiated narrative form. But first the story of the “white cloak of churches.” History as Directed Vision In book 1, chapter 5 of the Historiae, Rodolphus describes the destruction by fire of the churches of Orléans in the year 999 and their subsequent reconstruc­tion, starting presumably in the year 1000. The significance of these dates scarcely requires comment. Orléans was the seat of the French monarchy at this time, so it provided an ideal setting for a historia that sought to narrate Church and Throne as “a single text.” Rodolphus begins in a somewhat curious fashion, at least from our perspec­tive. Rather than recounting the details of the event itself, he sets up the oc­casion for a metacritical commentary by undertaking a contextual narrative that begins a year before the disaster. In the year of the incarnation of the Word, 998, there occurred in the Gallic city of Orleans a portent as memorable as it was terrifying. There is in that city a monas­tery founded in honor of the Chief Apostle, in which, originally, a community of virgins dedicated to the Omnipotent God served. This monastery is known as Saint­Peter-of-the-Virgins. In the middle of the monastery stood the venerable emblem of the Cross, displaying the image of the Savior Himself enduring the torments of death for the salvation of man. During the space of several successive days, a stream of tears, witnessed by many people, flowed from the eyes of this very image. So terrifying a spectacle naturally drew large crowds of people, many of whom, looking at it, saw in it a divine presage of a calamity to befall the city. Just as this same Savior, by his prescience aware of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, wept for that city, so, clearly, the imminent disaster which would befall Orleans soon after was confirmed by the tears wrung from the representation [figura] of His image. Another event occurred in the same city a short time afterwards, an unheard of thing, also, upon reflection, a portentous event. One night, when the watchmen of the main church, that is the cathedral, came as usual to open the doors of the holy place for those coming to hear matins, a wolf suddenly appeared and went into the church, seized the bellrope in his mouth, and



by shaking it, rang the bell. Those present were first terrified by amazement, then set up a great clamor, and, although unarmed, chased the wolf from the church. The next year, all the dwellings of the city as well as the church buildings were burned in a terrible fire. And no one doubted that so terrible a catastrophe had been prefigured by both of these portents. At this time, the bishop of the aforesaid city was the venerable Arnoul, a man as noble by his birth as by his great wisdom, and very rich thanks to the income from family holdings. In the face of the disaster which struck his episcopal see, and the desolation of the people committed to his care, he chose the wiser course: he amassed considerable resources and undertook to rebuild, from top to bottom, the edifice of the main church, which formerly had been consecrated in honor of the Cross of Christ. While he and his people were hastening to complete the work in order to finish it as handsomely as possible, a sign of divine favor was accorded him. For it came to pass one day, when the masons were testing the solidity of the ground to situate the foundation of the basilica, they discovered a great quantity of gold. They believed it to be sufficient to pay for all of the reconstruction of the basilica, however great the expense. They took this gold discovered by chance and brought it intact to the bishop. He gave thanks to Almighty God for the gift He had given him, took it and gave it to the construction foremen and ordered that it be faithfully expended in the building of this church. It was said that the gold was hidden thanks to the shrewdness of Saint Evurtius, the first prelate of the same see, who buried it for this very reconstruction. The idea came to this holy man because, when he was renovating the church for the first time, he too discovered a divine gift placed there for that purpose. In this way, the edifice of the church, that is the Cathedral, was rebuilt more splendidly. And also, on the recommendation of the pontiff, the buildings of the other churches, dedicated to various saints, were rebuilt more beautifully than the former buildings, and the worship of God’s works was better in that city than in any other. The city itself was rebuilt soon after with dwellings, and the people, purified of their corruption with the aid of divine forgiveness, recovered all the more quickly because of their wisdom in accepting the calamity as an exemplary punishment. This city was in ancient times, as it presently is, the principal seat for the court of the kings of France because of its beauty, of its large population, the fertility of its soil, and the purity of the river that nourishes it.6

In reading this account today, we cannot help but remark, perhaps even be distracted by, the interweaving of modes of direct and indirect narrative. The observation regarding the function and suitability of the city as the seat of the court of France does not seem, for example, to be related to the preceding narrative. And even in the account of the fire and its aftermath, we find a majority of elements related to a purpose other than that of straightforward reporting of an event-inthe-world.



And yet, given the principles outlined earlier, the account does possess a strict coherence, but one predicated upon stressing the alterity of Orléans, its nature as something special, a place resembling other special places known from Scripture; in short, the account seeks to relate place, event, and personae to a textual perspective of the world and the universe, the perspective of his­tory and anagogy. We perceive immediately that the account establishes a vertical dialectic demonstrating the descent of God in the world to manifest His purpose, and the reciprocal efforts of certain kinds of men to ascend toward the divinity in response to His condescension. Even a naive reader cannot miss the textual quality of Rodolphus’s account. No observer, looking directly at the events themselves, would ever have seen what Rodolphus’s narrative conveys. The locus of referentiality most emphatically does not lie in the phenomenal world, but on an intellectual horizon consisting of scriptural and philosophical knowledge. In interpreting Rodolphus’s account of Orléans at the turn of the millen­ nium, then, we need not ask whether his image can be corroborated by histor­ ical facts, but rather what texts from the scriptural canon and patristic litera­ture can help us to interpret his story. Why does Rodolphus seek to portray Orléans as a divinely graced place, an Edenic locus amoenus inhabited by a favored people whose crops grow abundantly thanks to the fertile soil and lim­pid, nurturing river? In representing Orléans according to the aesthetic of di­rected vision whereby the world is “rewritten” to make it appear as a divine work accomplished for the benefit of an obedient, God-fearing people, Rodol­phus reveals a purpose for his work which parallels divine intention, or what may be known of it. In other words, Rodolphus’s work is the textual mimesis of the dialectic of divine descent and human ascent it records. This fact has a fundamental importance for establishing the authority of Rodolphus as an interpreter of divine intentionality in the events whose sig­ nificance (as divine manifestation) he presents. To the extent that he may sug­gest by and in his work that he is like those holy men Arnoul and Saint Evur­tius, whose efforts to ascend toward the divine condescension keep the dialectic of Salvation history alive for ordinary men, his vision may be ac­credited. In a very real sense, the subtexts of Scripture function like the hoards of gold hidden first by God, then by Saint Evurtius for the various reconstruc­tions of the cathedral of Orléans. They are the God-given resource enabling him to build a more splendid and worthier edifice, namely, the reconstructed vision of Orléans as a christocentric locus, a spiritual Jerusalem, a place where humans may more readily acquire those divine attributes which not only per­mit them to manifest God’s grace on earth, but also situate them within the celestial hierarchy. As we know, this manifestation of God in the creature was called theosis, and we have heretofore discussed it primarily from the standpoint of person. We saw roughly who tended to qualify for it, at least in narratives, and what they



must do to experience it. But there is another aspect, almost as important as the anthropological one: the question of place. Just as theosis happened only to privileged persons, it also happened only in privileged places whose spiritual value could not be doubted. Since theosis was essentially a displacement into human time and history of the christolog­ical model—birth, death, Transfiguration, Resurrection, and Ascension, the cardinal stages of Christ’s earthly existence—person and place were closely linked in the sacralizing process, as Christ and Jerusalem were linked in the Passion story. Rodolphus’s account made Orléans such a sacred place: a stage setting for the drama of theosis. Theosis was known in Rodolphus’s time in the meaning given to it by Greg­ory the Great and Eriugena: “Theophany originates only from God, and is brought about by the condescension of the Divine Word, that is, the only-begotten Son, the Wisdom of the Father, toward the human nature created and purified by Him, and by the exaltation of human nature toward this Word by divine love.” By condescension I do not here refer to that already brought about by the Incarnation, but to that resulting from theosis, i.e., deification of the creature. Theophany comes about, then, from the condescen­sion of God’s Wisdom to human nature through grace, and from the exaltation of the same nature to Wisdom Itself through love [dilectionem] St. Augustine seems to agree with this meaning in explaining the Apostle’s words: “He has become our justice and Wisdom” (1 Cor. 1 : 30). His explanation states, “The Father’s Wisdom… is produced in our souls by an ineffable condescension of Its mercy, and joins Itself to our intellect, so that in some ineffable manner there is a kind of com­ pounded wisdom made from Him as He descends to us and dwells within us, and from our intelligence, which is drawn up by Him to Himself through love and is formed in Him.” Similarly he explains about justice and the other virtues that they are produced simply “from a marvelous and ineffable conformation of Divine Wis­dom and our intelligence.” As Maximus states, “Divine Wisdom descends through mercy as far as the human intellect ascends through love [caritatem].” This is the cause and substance of all virtues. Every theophany, therefore, that is, every virtue, both in this life in which it begins to be formed in the worthy, and in the future life of the man who will receive perfect divine bliss, is produced not outside a man himself but in himself, and arises both from God and from men themselves (my italics).7

Four ideas emerge from this passage that help us to understand the role of theosis in the development of the aesthetic of directed vision: (1) theosis was a mentalist activity coordinating human perception and expression, thought and “language,” with divine intentionality; (2) what was perceived determined what was expressed; and therefore (3) the object of the perception was repro­duced in the language of the expression; (4) the object of perception (for ex­ample, divine



intentionality) could thus be known through the expressive dis­course; in other words, divine intentionality could be known and communicated via human creative activity. Eriugena explained the collaboration of God in human expressivity by using the imagistic analogy of the mixture of air with sunlight, an analogy he found in Maximus the Confessor: “When sunlight is mixed with air, it begins to be visible. So in itself it cannot be apprehended by the senses, but when mixed with air, it can.” From this analogy you should understand that Divine Essence cannot be apprehended in Itself, but in a remarkable way becomes visible when joined to an intellectual creature, so that Divine Essence is the only thing visible in the intellectual creature….God will be seen through bodies and in bodies, not in Himself. Similarly, the Divine Essence will appear not in Itself, but through intellect and in intellects.8

In other words, Eriugena argued that God literally participated in man’s symbolling activity; He could not be experienced as an object of contempla­tion per se, at least not in this world, but He could be shown to exist by what happened when one looked at and wrote about the products of his creativity, that is, the world and its events. In this closed sign system—a circular one as we have seen—anything man contemplated or wrote about would reveal the latent presence of God, not least of all in the re-creative discourse itself. Di­rected vision simply made that coincidence of intentionality—the divine and the human—clearer by showing the extent of God’s participation in the hu­man, re-creative discourse. What does all this tell us about Rodolphus’s narrative? Among other things, it explains why the device known as translatio played so important a role in realizing the goals of directed vision in his story. Translatio was a metaphoric process whereby one construct assumed the symbolic signification of another considered greater than itself. For example, when Charlemagne sought to re­new the Roman Empire, he built his capital at Aix-la-Chapelle as an acknowl­edged translatio of Rome and Jerusalem, calling it a “Second Rome, a New Jerusalem.” This sounds very much like the four principles of theosis outlined above, as it should, for the two processes are similar, except that theosis designates a human cognitive activity, for example, “the intellect becomes what­ever it can grasp,”9 whereas translatio applies generally to ideas, things, places, or holy relics. The two frequently function together, as part of the same story, for translatio occurs at the behest of someone, and may constitute a signifi­cant proof of his or her spiritual biography. That is what occurs in Rodolphus’s narrative. The narrative mechanism for translatio may also be understood via the analogy Eriugena made with the mixing of air and sunlight: the literal element to be transformed by the symbolic one is like the air which provided the ve­hicle for revealing the light, not perceptible in itself—according to the science of the



period—but only when mixed with air. But the air by itself, without the light, has no meaning either, at least none so spectacular as that bestowed on it as the vehicle of light. Thus the event-in-the-world or the object selected for narration attains signification only when conjoined with another element to which it may be analogized in order to interpret it. The meaning of the narra­tive therefore can never be viewed in terms of the narrated event itself, but as the two, literal and symbolic, taken together. We thus come back to the earlier recognition of the ternary structure of narrative: (1) to provide a “literal” account of events-in-the-world (the register corresponding to the air in Eriugena’s analogy); (2) to relate these events to appropriate scriptural passages where Scripture provides the metonymic relata corresponding to the sunlight in the analogy; and (3) to show how both con­firm and justify divine order and its workings in the world; that is, the signifi­cance of the translatio of the first register in terms of the second. Since the function of narrative is determined by the third level, we know that the first level, the so-called literal account will be cast in such a way as to make it conform to the intentionality to be expressed, that is, “the object of perception will be represented in the language of the expression.” The narra­tive will thus contain within it an icon or image of what it seeks to explain. Narrative as Theosis Returning to the account of the fire at Orléans, we recall that it adopts a sin­g ularly indirect approach to the main historical fact. The fire as event-in-itself receives only the sparse, one-line description: “Sequenti vero anno tota illius civitatis humana habitatio cum domibus ecclesiarum terribiliter igne cremata est,” with only the adverbs “vero” and “terribiliter” providing some measure of rhetorical emphasis. And yet the facts of the catastrophe exposed in this sentence evoke the desolation of human tragedy. Nevertheless, Rodolphus de­votes much more space to the events preceding the fire, events whose neces­sary connection to the catastrophe exists only in the context posited by his own text. The account begins by relating the audience to a prophetic perspective: the event as verification of cosmic signs. Immediately, a context of symbolic al­terity envelops the event-as-recounted. This perspective of indirection appears first in the title given to the chapter: “De portento Aurelianae urbis mirabili” (On the miraculous omen in the city of Orléans). Latin syntax permits the noun, portentum, and its overdetermining adjective, mirabilum (portentum was already semantically marked with the connotation “marvelous, miracu­lous”), to surround the genitive forms Aurelianae urbis. From the beginning, then, the reader’s perspective is colored by the idea that Orléans was set apart from other cities, (1) by being a place where something worthy



of recording in the Historiae occurred, and (2) by possessing extraor­dinary spiritual status as a locus of the divine attention signified by “de por­tento…mirabili.” The introduction to the Historiae warned that only events of a momentous nature which “took place in the holy churches of Christen­dom” would be recorded and that these events would demonstrate the historic and anagogic coherence of the concept and reality of the spiritual Roman Em­pire which had succeeded to the primitive, monovalent political entity. In other words, one of Rodolphus’s concerns is the translatio of the old concept of orbis imperium Romanum under the New Alliance.10 We can begin to understand why this kind of historiography tends to be a retrospective reconstruction of contemporary events; less an account of the event itself than a récit of a series of details—which depended upon the liter­ ary context for their correlation—linked to demonstrate symbolic, rather than necessary, causality and intentionality. The events preceding the fire, and those subsequent to it—in short, the bulk of the narrative—inexorably relate historical fact to a context of other times and other histories. This analogical movement of indirection constitutes a narrative equivalent to Eriugena’s prin­ciple of progression and return, imparting a circular form to the story. Contem­porary events thus repeat past history both literally and symbolically, and the ultimate interpretation must assume the same circularity of progression and return. To demonstrate the continuing responsibility of divine providence for contemporary events, in the same way Scripture showed it to work in the past, translatio posits a dual dialectic in which contemporary historical “fact” dis­places in the direction of myth and the mythic matrix moves to accommodate historical “fact.” The first motion, therefore, must be to establish a mythic resonance, what we might call a predisposition or readiness of the historical fact to receive the imprint of mythic marking. Hence the care taken by the text to detail the portentous events preceding the fire, even though these events, from our view­point, are neither logically connected to the fire nor particularly believable. The first anecdote is the most interesting in that it provides a specific example of the primacy of the Logos in interpreting phenomenal reality. We might note, incidentally, the consistency whereby the narrative of the first portent incor­porates the four principles of theosis outlined above in a manner enabling it to establish the three hierarchical levels of directed vision. Rodolphus carefully situates the prolegomenous omens in sacred precincts, thereby assuring a context of divine authority for them. His description of the crucifix carefully stresses its dual nature as image of the historical Christ (“In cujus denique monasterii medio defixum stabat crucis vexillam”) and living, metaphysical meaning, that is, that aspect of the symbol which renders it po­tent as an icon of religious belief in the here and now (“a praeferans ipsius Salvatoris, pro salute humana mortem patientis”). The confrontation of past and present signals



these dual aspects: (a) the past tense of the placing of the image (“stabat”), and (b) the present tense of its sudden expressive activity (“praeferans”). The generic potency of the image becomes real when it behaves like a living person by weeping. The signified and signifier have been conflated so that the image becomes the object it represents, the living Christ, by means of super­natural intervention. This supernatural intervention would have appeared less miraculous to Rodolphus’s contemporaries than it does to us because of the context of belief in Rodolphus’s time, which permitted, indeed encouraged, such theophanic manifestations. At this point, Rodolphus evokes scriptural precedent for the weeping, thereby establishing intertextual authority for the event. It also signals the subtext which provides the analogical basis from which will come the mean­ing of the whole passage: the incident of Christ’s weeping for the imminent destruction of Jerusalem recounted in Luke 19 : 41-44, which occurred during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passion Week. As he drew near and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, “if you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifi­cations all around you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; They will dash you and your children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you—and all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it!”

The events of Christ’s Passion possessed an importance for the eleventh cen­ tury which we can scarcely comprehend today. The Passion marked the mo­ment, from which all human history was seen to depend, when Christ linked heaven and earth through his two bodies, the material and the spiritual, in a manifest demonstration of the interrelatedness of these two spheres of being. Examples of Christ’s prescience during the Holy Week were seen as under­ lining the essential irony of that event, so well illustrated by the passage from Luke: the irony stemming from the limitation of man’s vision as compared to God’s. This irony held that the literal meaning of an event (man’s initial view) would always differ from its symbolic meaning (that is, that which most closely approximated what could be known of divine purpose). It also guaran­teed a place for a mediator, an author or authority who would be required to represent the account of an event in the world in terms of the ironic opposition and its ultimate resolution in the direction of the symbolic meaning. This is, of course, the function of the Gospel writers, and Rodolphus structures him­self into the account under analysis in precisely this way. Both in Rodolphus’s account and in the tenth-century vernacular Passion of Clermont-Ferrand, which also represents this scene, what seems to have fas­cinated



authors and audiences was the example of Christ’s dual vision, his ability to see the symbolic in the literal and to represent this vision; in other words, his ability to represent history in terms of divine intentionality. In our passage, the intervention of the Gospel incident imbues the impending de­struction of Orléans with a mythic resonance not otherwise apparent. Orléans is homologized to the Jerusalem viewed by Christ, that is, the historical Jerusalem; historical event to mythic account, whereby both place and event achieve a meaning which renders the fact of the destruction of the city not only comprehensible, but, as the sequel demonstrates, even desirable as a manifestation of divine grace. Just as the Gospel account of Christ’s weeping for Jerusalem makes Christ not the author of the destruction of the historical Jerusalem but the interpreter of that act, so Rodolphus’s account makes Christ’s living image the interpreter of the destruction of Orleans. This fact cannot be overlooked, for it provides a key to the function of the whole account. It would be a mistake to see the reference to the destruction of Jerusalem as a simple historical analogy. Rodol­phus’s purpose in recounting the destruction and rebuilding of Orléans set out to explain why it was a privileged city, a sacred locus. Such an equation pre­supposed that it possess spiritual significance to valorize its historical role. To achieve this, in turn, required that Orléans be analogized to the historical Je­rusalem so that it might possess the virtue of that spiritual city.11 For the Middle Ages, Jerusalem was two cities, a transcendental celestial one—Christ’s city refounded in heaven after its destruction by Titus12—and the terrestrial Jerusalem marked by the splendor of the Holy Churches which Constantine had constructed over the sacred places associated with Christ’s Passion. There were thus two “New Jerusalems,” the heavenly city announced at the end of Revelation and the terrestrial renovatio—a refounding of the City of David and Christ—established by Constantine. It was Eusebius who first cast Constantine’s building program in the perspective of renovatio by calling it “a New Jerusalem.”13 Pilgrim accounts throughout the early Middle Ages, however, call attention to the splendor of the buildings over the holy sites in Jerusalem, so there can be little doubt that at least part of the concept of re­novatio was linked to the notion of creation of beautiful buildings commemo­rating sacred sites.14 Renovatio, because it was a spiritual renewal from above, did not necessar­ily need to be confined to the site of the original place or thing being renewed. Thanks to the concept of translatio, the spiritual values associated with one place could migrate to another, provided that the migration be associated with a significant creationist activity, like the building program of Constantine in Jerusalem.15 Ernst Kantorowicz linked the distinction between “historical place” and “spiritual place” to the concept of Time and eternity, where the spiritual or sacred resonance was signaled by the process of “haloing”: “the ‘halo’ always indicated in some way or another, a change in the nature of Time. It signified that the haloed individual,



person or place, participated also in a category of ‘Time’ which was different from the one determining the natural life on earth…. [T]he halo removed its bearer… from tempus to aevum, from Time to sempiternity.”16 Renovatio and translatio are concepts associated with artistic creation, as well as possessing spiritual connotation. They manifest themselves, in fact, in their spiritual sense in the presence of creative activity, as the anonymous hymn used at the consecration of churches, Urbs beata Jerusalem, reminds us. In this poem, “Jerusalem” represents the spiritual city, refounded and transformed by Christ’s Passion. It is Christ; and, metaphorically, it is the new church at whose dedication the hymn was sung and into which the faithful will enter, as later they will enter the heavenly Jerusalem. The blessed city, Jerusalem, called the vision of peace, which is built in heaven, out of living stones, and adorned by angels as a bride is adorned by her attendants. Like a bride coming from heaven, is ready for the nuptial bed, so that she may be united in marriage with the Lord. Her streets and her walls are made of purest gold. Her gates shine with pearls, her approaches lie always open; and in accordance with their merits all who in Christ’s name are oppressed in this world are made to enter there. Her stones, shaped by crushing blows, are fitted into their places by the hand of the artificer and are disposed that they may remain for ever in the sacred building. Christ is placed as the corner-stone, which is bonded into the framework of both walls. Holy Sion receives him and, placing her faith in him, is fixed in him for ever…17

The fourth stanza of this hymn makes the equation between the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, and the destruction and rebuilding of holy places whose spiritual value derived precisely from the process of destruction and renewal. In fact, the renovatio depends upon the paradox of “creation by de­struction”: “Her stones, shaped by crushing blows, are fitted into their places by the hand of the artificer….” There is yet another important element in the equivalence of the destruc­ tion and rebuilding of Jerusalem to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ: that of divine intentionality. It was through the death and resurrection, as medieval texts did not tire of saying, that God reiterated the Genesis story but with a “textual commentary,” this time in the form of the Logos who made explicit God’s intention. We cannot miss, in this context, the underlying con­cept of circularity between heaven and earth, that is, procession and return, so vital to the concept of theosis.



Eusebius’s accounts of the building of the “New Jerusalem” by Constantine repeatedly make the equation between building and revelation. They also equate revelation with aesthetic beauty, not because aesthetic beauty was somehow thought to be the same as divine revelation, but because divine reve­lation in and of itself was seen as a manifestation of God’s existence, even if the nature of that existence was beyond man’s comprehension. Thus the places which manifested His presence were to be rendered as beautiful physi­cally as they were extraordinary spiritually. By creating in his own manner, that is, through the talents of aesthetic disciplines, man could imitate, how­ever imperfectly, God’s intentional creation, at least to the extent of calling attention to the splendor of those sites particularly imbued with His presence, and investing them with an atmosphere of awe calculated to dispose the faith­ful in the direction of pious contemplation. In effect, the sites were to be cov­ered with a visual “rhetoric of revelation.”18 The fifth stanza of Urbs Beata Jerusalem explicitly evokes the intentional­ ity of building as creation in terms of the insertion of Christ into the fabric of the edifice as literal and metaphoric cornerstone. The following stanza, omit­ted above, expresses the purpose of such religio-aesthetic creationism: to be a new testimony to God’s continuing presence by praising Him in its own form, and— most importantly for our purposes—by inviting others to perceive and praise God; which was, of course, the function of theosis. The whole of that city, sacred and beloved by God, full of melodies, praises and pro­claims God, the one and the triune, with exultation.19

But, at the same time, human building activity served not only as a marker asserting a recognition and praise of God’s existence, but also as an initiator of the dialectic of return, whose success would be marked by the descent of God into the building which will then be in spirit as well as intent a “New Jerusa­lem”: Won by our prayers, come God most high, into this temple, receive the prayers of thy suppliants with clemency, and pour ever into it thy bountiful blessing.20

We can now understand the implicit irony in Rodolphus’s account of the destruction of Orléans. From the initial terrestrial perspective, it was a disas­ter, but when seen from the divine perspective explicated by the omens, it becomes a necessary precondition of spiritual reconstruction, conferring on that community the status of “divinely preferred city,” thereby making it eli­gible for the symbolic homologization with Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the city—the second stage in the account—thus assumes the function of a second stage in the dialectic of ironic reversal whereby God’s Wisdom once again re­veals itself to be greater than man’s limited vision. This spiritual refounding of Orléans, under the sign of the translatio Hierosylimitani we have just wit­nessed, would make it clear that Orléans



was indeed a sacred locus and there­fore worthy to be the seat of a theosized being, the king of France. In such an equation, France, too, acquired a spiritual resonance as an integral part of that renovatio perceived by Rodolphus, the renovatio of the Roman Empire (orbis imperium Romanum). The second half of Rodolphus’s account demonstrates the dynamics of met­ aphoric transference in terms of person as well as place. There are two specific reasons for this: (1) a world view dominated by a creationist philosophical anthropology necessarily required a human authority to render apparent the coincidence between divine intention and human creative activity; and (2) the myth of a people elect of God required a visionary leader, the prophet, to point out the path of rectitude in order to lead his people back to it. In the Middle Ages, Christ was the logical culmination of the Old Testament prophet/leader. Therefore a translatio Hierosylimitani without a corresponding identification of a Christ figure, an imitatio Christi, would be impossible in the syntax of the mythic language at work here. Creationism underpins the basic notion of the holistic microcosm theory. For man’s re-creative activity to parallel, at the microcosmic level, the work of the Prime Mover at the universal level—the coincidence of human creativ­ity and divine intentionality—must be maintained. This, in turn, might only be assured when it could be demonstrated, for the human sphere, that the re­creative effort had been the work of an authority, a “seer.” Seer was one of the terms for God as interpreter of His work in Eriugena’s symbolic etymology of the word God from the Greek theoro.21 Constantine appeared as a “seer” in Eusebius’s account of his rebuilding of Jerusalem. The penultimate sentence of Rodolphus’s account also suggests another scriptural model at work in the narrative: the model of the prophet who brings the erring elect of God back to the paths of divine rectitude. Eriugena’s Homily on the Prologue to John asserted that man had been guided back to the knowl­edge of God’s commandments by a double movement: “through Scripture and through created things.”22 An authority figure must therefore be capable of revealing Christas-Word through Scripture and through created things, pref­erably the two taken together. The textual presentation of Arnoul’s role in rebuilding Orléans makes him at once seer and leader, historic figure and scriptural prophet. It transposes Arnoul from human to divine context by mak­ing him the focus of a dual mythic structure: one scriptural, the other a his­toricization of scriptural authority. Again, this section begins by indirection. This time the focus falls not on the event but on the person responsible for it, the bishop Arnoul. Like the city itself, Arnoul is represented as having a privileged status. Initially, this con­sists of his birth and wisdom. Wisdom is key here, for that quality will be valorized as corresponding to divine intention. The implication clearly con­veys the uniqueness of the bishop’s perception—his thought and “language,” the latter analogized to



the commands for rebuilding: he alone sees what must be done and how to do it, that is, God’s intention. His perception of the reno­vatio of Orléans expressing via the splendor of buildings the concept of a re­newed locus of spiritual life will determine the result: “the cathedral rebuilt more splendidly than before” and the refounded cult where “God’s works are worshipped better than in any other city.” Furthermore, Rodolphus’s narrative functions, at one level, to show that Ar­noul’s perception of God’s intention has indeed been realized in the building program, conceived as the bishop’s chosen form of expression, his “language.” Rodolphus’s narrative completes the building program by conjoining creative expression and human/divine intention in a context of interpretive language which reveals the perceptible world—the rebuilt city of Orléans—as a “micro-context” in which may be “read” the divine order—and ordering—of the uni­verse. All of this emerges with remarkable narrative economy in the three para­graphs devoted to the rebuilding of the city. Each paragraph represents a differ­ent level of concern, imparts an expanding focus to the account. The first treats the literal level of event, while incorporating markers which point to the symbolic deep structure of mythic subtexts to be activated in the unfold­ing of hierarchical concerns that occurs in the subsequent paragraphs. The markers, which remain virtual in this first paragraph, are the singling out of Arnoul—one of two named characters in the whole narrative (the other being Saint Evurtius, named in the second of the three paragraphs in this section)—and the authorial intervention at the end of the paragraph: “nimium evidenter praestitum est illi divinitus juvamen,” which may be translated, with a weak­ening of the connotation of wonder conveyed by the Latin, as “a sign of divine favor was accorded him.” The second paragraph advances the literal narrative by explaining how the splendid buildings were financed. At the same time, the mythic resonance of this “historic” fact, the divine gold hoard, subverts the literality or univocity of the narrative, just as the lachrymose crucifix transformed the first part of the story. Together, the weeping crucifix and the gold hoard create the expec­tation, “portent = expression of divine intention,” that supports the basis for the assertion of divine causality so important to the discourse. The story of the miraculous gold also structures into the narrative the icon of another myth which tells the same story. The dialectic between these two stories operates in precisely the same way as the two sets of portents just described. The narrative of Saint Evurtius, probably derived from local legend, is preserved in a Vita Sancti Evurtii.23 It demonstrates strikingly the circular principle of mutual definition—a kind of narrative semiotic chain—whereby one text provided the authority for a second text based upon a subsequent event whose credibility depended upon its being made as much like the ac­count of the first event as possible. The account of the original event incorporated into the new text serves as an icon of textual authority ratifying both stories and relaying into “modern”



history the portentousness of the sacred past. This permits the double move­ ment of displacement of myth toward modern historic event and vice versa, thus emphasizing a primary signification of historiography in this period: that the textualization of history was a “continually evolving process of creation, a process which strove to present the truth of the past from the perspective of the present.”24 Rodolphus himself illustrates this principle by tracing the gold hoard not simply back to Saint Evurtius but to God Himself. Saint Evurtius’s original cathedral would thus have been a human manifestation of divine intention; Arnoul’s construction a reiteration of divine thought at one remove. We should note here the suspension of realistic time continua: the history of ec­clesiastical construction in Orléans stands reduced to three primal move­ ments: God’s intention, Saint Evurtius’s translation of thought to act, and Arnoul’s replication of the two prior “moments.” In this sequence, we can hardly miss the assertion by Rodolphus that Arnoul’s act seeks to recapture all the splendor of the primal movement of condescension: God’s original intuition. Arnoul does not simply reiterate Saint Evurtius’s action of building; he suc­ ceeds, we are told, in realizing a more splendid manifestation of the divine intention than had existed in the past by constructing a more magnificent cathedral and in refounding a more spectacular physical and spiritual setting. This exemplifies how deeply rooted was the concept of progress in human history, viewed, as we saw in the previous chapter, as a series of ascending stages from purification to illumination to perfection. Once again, we see that translatio was not a static concept, but one based on an ideal of history as a record of the return toward the One, which began, in the postlapsarian world, with the Incarnation of the Word, the terminus a quo of Rodolphus’s chro­nology. We now see why the second paragraph homologizes Arnoul to Saint Evurtius and both to Christ. They are imitationes Christi presiding in their different eras over a spiritualized Jerusalem. The specifically contemporary anchoring of the account in this second paragraph has not been denied so much as it has been elevated to a timeless continuum of spiritual acts. The microcontext of Orléans in the first quarter of the eleventh century has been interpreted in the light of eternal texts— the Vita Sancti Evurtii—and, especially in the first part of the account and the final paragraph, of the mythic subtext of the Old and New Testaments. Obviously, this holistic view of place and person could only be the product of Rodolphus’s directed vision, of a narrative that textualized space and time in such a way as to make it comparable to other spaces and other times as represented in authoritative texts. Unlike Arnoul’s buildings, Rodolphus’s narrative had at its disposal the selfconscious capabilities of verbal language. An attempt to schematize the model apparently used by the narrative of the events at Orléans would reveal some­thing like the accompanying schema. It consists of a dynamic interchange among three points of a triangle of signifying elements where the two base points are narrative



“Holistic Microcosmic Theory” = Philosophical Context evoked by Rodolphus’s World-as-Word (text)


A Person: Arnoul Narrative Place: Orléans

B Christ/Apostle/St. Evurtius Scripture/Apocrypha Jerusalem/sacred locus/ primitive Orléans

texts, while the apex represents the philosophical tradi­ tion informing the perception of these texts. In Rodolphus’s Historiae that philosophical tradition contains a strong admixture of the Neoplatonic doc­trines espoused by Eriugena and the Greek Fathers whom Rodolphus cites with such admiration. The model has purposely been cast to resemble the metaphoric triangle pro­ posed by Pelc as modified by Alverson to incorporate the intentional proper­ties of metaphoric language.25 As in a metaphor, all the signifying elements of the triangle are read simultaneously; it is only in the interpretive process that the literal events (A) become consciously transformed by analogization with signifying elements (B) and (C). That these elements may be seen as belonging to the textual intentionality of the narrative may be demonstrated by the fact that they are all internal to the récit, as the preceding discussion has made clear. Although the schema has been made text-specific to account for the narra­ tive under discussion, it clearly could be used to generate any number of narrative accounts of events-in-the-world simply by varying the person/place specificity of (A) and by finding the applicable corresponding references to Scripture/Apocrypha for (B). There are dozens of places in the Historiae where the model has been used, and one could adduce without difficulty similar ex­amples from other eleventhcentury chroniclers like Adémar de Chabannes. The model does more than simply offer a heuristic device for explaining the generative principles governing logocentric narrative. It enables us to under­stand why ancillary literature, that is, apocryphal literature or literature not specifically theological, could suddenly assume in the eleventh and twelfth centuries a role of considerable social prestige and privilege that it had not enjoyed previously. It also explains why it would be a natural complement to the more spectacular forms of religious expressive activity like the massive building programs undertaken at



Orléans, Chartres, Rheims, and elsewhere. Rodolphus’s historia, or any narrative constructed on the same principles, had the power of making divine creationist activity seem less distant from the world of everyday reality. This coextensiveness of the spiritual and mundane worlds manifested itself intellectually as a circularity of intellectual exchange, a perpetual va-et-vient of objects and ideas from the terrestrial to the celestial realms. Only man en­joyed the privilege of participating in both spheres, according to the thought of the period, and this privilege required constant demonstration. In the phil­osophical horizon of the era, point (C) on the diagram, the concept of proces­sion and return provided the most comprehensive intellectual framework by which to relate the coextensiveness of heaven and earth to daily existence. The diagram shows how the dialectic of procession and return could be inter­nalized as narrative structure at levels (A) and (B) by being made a principle for intertextuality. The concept that all things flow from and ultimately rejoin their origin—becoming like it in the process—has been transposed to fit the literary situation: historical narrative must be shown to proceed from and re­turn to its primordial source, the Word of God in Scripture, and in so doing construe the world as representation according to the same logocentric prin­ciples. Narrative Theosis as Agon The foregoing discussion demonstrated a static model of translatio and theosis in historia. It showed how fate and the perspicacity of privileged humans might function together to reveal the “white garments” of divine presence in a sacred place. Now we can see how translatio and theosis work dynamically to reveal God’s hand in the drama of human affairs. Above all, we may get an idea of how the holistic theory of microcosm im­ parts coherence to historia as a literary unit. While the fire and the rebuilding of churches at Orléans make perfect sense when read as a self-contained an­ecdote, they become even more meaningful when seen as a metonymic ele­ment in an overarching structure, beginning with the Historiae as a whole. Not only has Orléans been important in the far and recent past of France, but it will continue to manifest mythic resonance as a principle of differentiation, as we discover in a story told in book 3. Book 2 of the. Historiae tends with a chilling account of a new heresy discov­ered in Italy. Not surprisingly in so textually oriented a world, this heresy, Rodolphus asserts’, arose from an evil but ingenious grammarian who placed the interpretation of pagan classical authors—for example, Virgil, Horace, Ju­venal— above Scripture: “This man, corrupted by the tricks of the devils, be­gan to teach things contrary to holy faith very bombastically, and he claimed that the sayings of the poets should be believed in all things.”26 In short, this Italian grammarian



substituted a hermeneutics of a purely human, historic, and intercultural sort for the vertical, anagogic, and intertextual hermeneutics of ontology given in Scripture. A rival hermeneutics attacking the fundamen­tal concept of a holistic microcosm threatened to undermine the most basic idea of order for the eleventh-century European; most particularly the idea of the monarchy. No wonder Rodolphus concludes both his introduction to the new heresy and book 2 with a reference to the most militant of New Testa­ment texts, and the one which played so important a role in combating the dualist heresy in the early part of the Middle Ages: the book of Revelation. As we shall see later on, Revelation had a privileged status as a subtext in the literature that was concerned with varieties of challenge to the orthodox Christian episteme: the chanson de geste. The reference made by Rodolphus at the end of book 2 suggests why heresy and its reciprocal, the affirmation of a coherent, scripturally based Christian community, were invested with such portentousness in the millennial century after the birth of Christ: “This pres­age agrees with the prophesy of John according to which Satan will be un­leashed after a thousand years; we shall treat of this at greater length in the Third Book.” 27 Revelation had more to offer the world view of the eleventh century than an apparently topical reference to the Apocalypse. The basic theme of Revelation was that of celestial order and stability versus terrestrial disorder and muta­bility. The vision of John was one of a progressively disintegrating world upon which the Salvation symbol of the Lamb, finally surrounded by the eternally stable New Jerusalem, had been imposed. Standard illustrations of Revelation dating from the period show the toppling of earthly cities, the destruction of significant portions of humanity, the birth of the ideal manchild threatened by the serpent, and even the disintegration of the natural world in a vividly imag­inative manner. In the midst of this evocation of disorder and chaotic move­ment stood the calm and stately symbols of order, notably the Lamb. In a quite literal manner, Revelation, as represented in the sumptuous illuminated manuscripts of this period, illustrated the divine forces in Apocalypse as mo­tus stabilis et status mobilis. The Eriugenian reference is not gratuitous, but had important corollaries in Romanesque art which show that the association of Apocalypse and heresy belonged to the intellectual horizon of the period. Meyer Schapiro demon­strated the survival of Carolingian motifs in eleventh-century illustrations in the Beatus Commentary on Apocalypse of Saint-Sever (c. 1060), in two draw­ings from Tours (late eleventh century), and in the great theophanic tym­panum at Moissac, which we shall examine later in this chapter. These works, the drawings especially, “point,” he argued, “to the continuity of Carolingian and Romanesque art in one of the great Carolingian centers—a continuity that should have been suspected because of the corresponding relations of the Ottonian and Carolingian schools in Germany.”28



Schapiro also showed that this continuity extended to Carolingian theolog­ ical preoccupations which were incorporated in the iconography of these im­ages of Apocalypse. In particular, he found the Carolingian conception of the sublimity of John the Evangelist to be echoed in these (and other) Romanesque works. “In a homily by the greatest Carolingian thinker, John the Scot [Eri­ugena], enthusiasm for the Evangelist reaches a climax of rapture. The author of the fourth Gospel is admired as more than human.”29 Saint John, in Eri­ugena’s interpretation, wrote after experiencing a theophany, an intellectual transfiguration. This “voice of the mystical eagle that resounds in the ears of the Church…was lifted by the ineffable flight of his spirit beyond all things to the arcane of the unique Principle of all things, there to perceive the Prin­ciple and the Word, both incomprehensible, that is the Father and the Son.”30 The mystical authority of John made him a particularly important witness in the struggle against heresies that sought to divide the universe by separating heaven and earth, rather than seeing them as a unitary creation by a divine principle. In his Homily on John, Eriugena expressly asserted that John had written “In mundo erat” (John 1 : 10, “He was in the world”), “lest one might think, sharing the Manichaean heresy, that the sensible world had been created by the Devil and not by the Creator of all things visible and invisible.”31 When we recall that the author of the fourth Gospel and the author of Reve­ lation were thought at this time to be the same John, we can understand the authority of these two works: one providing a theology, the other a vision of combat and ultimate victory, for the fight against “the hostile world” and, especially, heretics. Eriugena’s precocious marshaling of John’s Gospel in the fight against heresy must have been seen, in the eleventh century, as particu­larly prescient—and not least of all by Rodolphus, for whom the recrudescence of heresy cast the known world into apocalyptic disorder, making Revelation 20 : 3, to which he refers, the appropriate subtext for his historia. Book 3 of Rodolphus’s Historiae orchestrates the apocalyptic polarity be­tween order and disorder with great assurance. In the first instance, it offers an apparently unmitigated catalogue of disasters, both natural and human in ori­gin. It argues, for example, in the third chapter, that Robert the Pious’s reign was distinguished by a divine portent of disaster: a comet which foretold ca­tastrophes that befell churches and churchmen from one end of his kingdom to the other. It is this book that recounts the destruction of the Anastasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem and the plague of heresy already noted. Yet one feels no contradiction, reading the book, in remarking its essentially positive view. This optimism grounds itself in images of creative stasis, of integration, in the midst of gratuitous motion and disintegration. The coun­ter-theme of integrative stasis begins with the assertion, made at the beginning of the book, that since the year 1000, the world had been favored with great leaders, both



churchmen and statesmen, “men whose life and work can fur­nish posterity with exempla worthy of being imitated”:32 such men as Pope Benedict VIII (1012– 24) and Emperor Henry II of Germany (1002–24). But above all, King Robert the Pious of France (996–1031) serves as Rodolphus’s prime example of creative stability. The choice, from the standpoint of histo­ria as narrative, must be linked directly to the focal point of the book, the chapter devoted to the suppression of heresy at Orléans. For the technique of this narrative, we find a new concept of the philosophy and aesthetics of theo­sis brought into play, the notion of agonistic hermeneutics. The Agonistic Basis of Historia As we turn to book 3, we might briefly focus on two correlative concepts that will help us to understand the narrative strategy. The first of these concerns the nature of will or action in the world as a struggle to intuit the path of ascent and to avoid the horizontal, worldly paths that lead away from reunion with the One. The second principle flows logically from the first and shows the world to be a place of chaos, resistant to order and requiring the effort of a strong, willingly enlightened leader to impose and maintain the order of the Logos. Together, these concepts account for many of the most characteristic aspects of Romanesque narrative and iconography. Eriugena’s concept of theosis, articulated by Rodolphus in the introduction to book 1, emphasized the notion of human agon, or struggle, toward the point where God’s condescension met and filled the ascending human. But, as Ro­ dolphus reminded us, it was not just any human who reached this point, al­though in theory, theosis could be available to anyone. Only the homo erudi­tus, moving from knowledge (scientia) to wisdom (sapientia), could achieve this end.33 Scientia applied itself to active study of things in the world and was the first step in the difficult task of reading the world as a text in order to ascend toward the higher knowledge, or wisdom (sapientia), which contem­plates the divine, eternal, and unchangeable nature of things: in other words, the Creative Principle (what could be known of God). Eriugena conceived of this elevation of the spirit as a difficult struggle; al­ though everyone might have the capacity for raising the soul to theosis, not everyone would choose to do so. Scripture, he said, provides an image of the two kinds of humans to be found in the world: those who seek God and those who turn away. The former provide the good agon, the dramatic struggle by which humans return to and affirm the creative principle. The latter cause the worldly agon, the dissension and chaos that threaten to undo the universal order. Eriugena took his image of the two kinds of humans from a scriptural para­ble that became a great favorite in medieval drama and art: the parable of the Wise and



Foolish Virgins in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the End (Matt. 25 : 1–13): In the Gospel the Lord Himself likened to ten virgins the whole of rational creation, which was created specially in man and which naturally has within it a desire for bliss and a capacity for knowledge of the Highest Good—that is, of the most sub­lime Trinity, from which flows all good. These virgins, taking up their lamps, that is, the capacity for knowing the eternal light, went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride, that is, Christ and the Church, which is now in heaven, consisting partly of the holy angels, partly of the purest souls of men. In them the first fruits of human nature, which still is in the captivity of mortal life and frail limbs, are added to the citizens of the celestial country. But why to meet them? Because the Re­deemer and the Bridegroom of rational nature, with the ineffable condescension and readiness of His clemency, moved by regard for our salvation, always has come to receive us spiritually, accompanied by celestial powers and holy spirits.34

Eriugena stressed the fact that the ten virgins represented all of humanity. Everyone had the capacity to know God; each person received a lamp, that is, the mind with its “capacity for the true light.” But, as the parable taught, when the moment came to illumine and be illuminated by Christ, not everyone had oil for the lamp. The oil signified the effort of the human to ascend toward the understanding of the Logos: “a naturally implanted striving” and an “actual attempt to ascend to the sole natural goods of humanity, which subsist in Christ.”35 The five Foolish Virgins constituted that part of humanity unwilling to turn toward the Light of minds; those “unclean spirits” who “will not arrive at the supernatural grace and joy of deification in Him,” that is, theosis. Eriugena argued that by dividing humanity into two classes, the wise and the foolish, and by providing Christ as the archetype of the, ideal man, the homo eruditus, God assured that man’s free will would be most effectively employed in directed symbolling activity: “Scripture does not say ‘Let us make man in Our image and likeness’ but ‘according to our image and like­ness.’ It is as though it were clearly saying: ‘Let us make man to become Our image and likeness if he guards Our precept.’ Man, then, was made not wise but receptive of wisdom if he should wish to be.”36 Note that proper image-making here became the first and highest priority of ideal man: that part of humanity which followed God’s precepts would dem­ onstrate its receptivity by the kind of image produced. Theosis and its related concept, the imitatio Christi, became rhetorical models in a dual sense: a model for the author of historia to be encoded into the narrative and an ex­emplum for the readers to be imitated in their lives. These reflections on the nature of agonistic hermeneutics as a principle of difference lead to the second thought to be borne in mind when considering the account of the theosis of King Robert. That is the correlative view pro­moted by



agonistic hermeneutics of the world as a place of chaos, resistant to order and requiring a leader capable of interpreting and imposing on his realm the order of the Logos. The concepts outlined above correlate closely with observable characteris­ tics of Romanesque art: its dynamism, its contradictions, its ability to com­bine elements of a disparate nature. All of this belongs to the perspective of ordered disorder that has long been recognized as a feature of Romanesque narrative and iconography. It may be seen in monumental sculptures that in­tentionally thrust out beyond the confines of their frames, in the “contradic­tion of the implied order of planes,”37 “in the contrast of abstraction and real­ism,”38 and in the tightly packed visual spaces. It is a phenomenon which derives from a philosophical world view transposed into an aesthetic and structural principle of art. Meyer Schapiro has referred to it as “a conception of contrast as both a principle of arrangement and a quality of antagonistic or divided objects” and argued that it “promotes contrasts in the effort to realize the effects of movement and expression of excited energies.”39 In literature, it tends to promote a narrative characterized by an asymmetrical structure, at least by classical standards. It also promotes a narrative that portrays the world and its institutions as perpetually afflicted by a radical kind of entropy, a world barely held together by the efforts and sacrifices of a few privileged humans. The elements of the agon found in these works resolve into units dialecti­ cally distributed along axes which—thanks to the metaphoric/metonymic linking of Gospel texts and the physical universe proposed by philosophical anthropology—are simultaneously conceptual and spatial. These axes consist of the vertical dialectic created by theophany/theosis, and the horizontal axis constituted by the world where the initial struggle begins and is waged. This axis usually opposes the vertical not only actively—as in the case of heresy or paganism where, from the Christian perspective, there can be no transcendent referent (orthodoxy in any belief system reserved to itself exclusive access to transcendent reality)—but also by virtue of the different natures of the two axes. The world is phenomenal, concrete, and immediate, whereas the path of transcendence is conceptual, a construct of the mind and spirit, an attempt to intellect the ineffable via the concrete. The agonistic element in the struggle to define the vertical path arose from the immediacy and apparent cogency of the worldly concerns as opposed to the uncertainty of determining divine in­ tentionality when viewed from the perspective of man’s limited vision. This posed a problem: how to tell the path for the return to God from among all the confusion and urgency of immediate worldly problems? A good part of the drama of Romanesque historia as represented in visual or literary form lay in its ability to represent this dilemma in terms of the real world and contem­porary humanity.



This conception naturally gave rise to a viewpoint in which cognition or vision was a necessary precondition and corollary to action in the world. This explains in part the hierarchical conception of humanity, which placed so much emphasis on the exemplary human, the seer, or prophet, as leader. Log­ically, this theory privileged a hero-type as a person capable not only of acting, but above all of perceiving how to act in the face of great intellectual as well as physical odds and where the theater of action would be a world resistant to the ideals of order he would seek to impose. The historiated hero—saint, king, or warrior—was thus inevitably a type predicated on the paradigmatic man that Rodolphus called the homo eruditus and, as we saw, emblazoned on the beginning of his work. The Agonistic Hermeneutics of Historia Rodolphus’s narrative of the heresy at Orléans incorporates the contrast of antagonistic principles identified by Schapiro as a structuring principle of Ro­ manesque composition. The intrinsic interest of the story from the viewpoint of medieval narrative theory cannot fail to be heightened by its undoubted historical significance. From our perspective, it possesses not simply the kind of anecdotal fascination we found in the account of the rebuilding of Orléans, but an absolute importance as one of those authentic “firsts” of history which alter the way Western man subsequently behaved. The conduct and resolution of the inquisition in Orléans in 1022 broke with a millennial tradition on two counts: (1) it was the first time that a trial for heresy had been conducted by a secular authority, and (2) so far as we know, the first time that heretics had been burned at the stake; indeed, the first time capital punishment had been exacted for heresy. Previously, heretics had been judged by ecclesiastical authorities and subject to canonical penalties.40 The account, then, contains two major historical anomalies: the perception of heresy as a major threat to the community at large and the intervention of the king in the place of ecclesiastical authorities. It was, indeed, says Rodol­phus, Robert himself who convened the trial, conducted the inquisition of the heretics, and pronounced sentence on them. Other accounts agree in sub­stance, but do not go to quite the lengths Rodolphus did to emphasize the king’s role at the expense of other participants, a fact in itself suggestive of his commitment to historia as directed vision.41 The story resolves into two closely linked movements: a drama of event and person and a drama of opposing ideologies. Since Rodolphus intervenes as di­ alectician, arguing the case for orthodoxy, he assumes a textual persona, that of a visionary prophet working alongside the religio-political leader, King Rob­ert, to articulate and thus maintain the order of the ideal society against those opponents who attempt to cut it off from the authoritative texts that sup­port it.



Drama of Event and Person The account of the heresy is too long to quote here, but the facts may be quickly resumed, even though, as we have come to expect with Rodolphus, it is less the facts that constitute the narrative than the context of intentionality in which he presents them. Much of the interest in the récit in fact stems from the fascinating alternation between such narrative modes as direct and indi­rect discourse and verb tenses, all of which figure in the rhetorical subordina­tion of récit to historia. The heresy described by Rodolphus at the end of book 2 penetrated to Gaul through the intermediary of an “Italian” woman, presumably a disciple of an evil grammarian, Vilgard.42 A certain number of people were corrupted by the heresy, including a good many learned clerics. In particular, two noble and learned monks of Orléans, who had been on close terms of friendship with the king and court, became leading proponents of the heresy. In attempting to win over a priest of Rouen to their cause, as part of their plan to spread the move­ment throughout France, these monks, Herbert and Lisoius, revealed the full extent of their intentions, saying that the moment was approaching when all the people would rally to their cause. The priest, shocked by the revelation, notified Count Richard of Rouen, who immediately informed King Robert of what was happening. Acting with equal celerity, the king went to Orléans, convened a council of bishops, abbots, clerks, and lay leaders, and began to conduct an inquisition to determine the nature and extent of the movement. Unrepentant, Herbert and Lisoius testified boldly to their beliefs. The essential tenets of their doctrine appear primarily in the text as indirect discourse, a technique that allowed the narrator to construct a framework of phatic markers connotative of incredulity around the exposition. At this point, Rodolphus interrupted the narrative in order to present a re­ sponse to the heretical views just outlined. That exposition, which occupies the bulk of the chapter, grounds itself in unmistakably Eriugenian concepts, drawing upon the notions of procession and return and agonistic hermeneutics outlined above. Declaring that the “errors” of the heretics—who numbered thirteen—have been countered by reasoned arguments, Rodolphus resumed the story to detail the final act. Despite all efforts to bring them back to the paths of orthodoxy, the heretics remained adamant in their antifaith. At that point, the king, treat­ing the heretics as enemies of Church and State conjoined in his own person—this is at once an important historical as well as artistic concept—ordered them to be burned. This second conflagration at Orléans, like the first, served a purifying pur­ pose, and that made the dénouement the most lively part of the whole ac­count. The condemned heretics boasted that they would pass unscathed through the fire.



Even when led to the enormous pyre prepared by the king’s orders, they proclaimed their willing acceptance of the test. When the thir­teen—the number has obvious symbolic significance—had been cast into the flames, a miracle occurred. All thirteen declared themselves to have been led astray by Satan, and that everything they had maintained previously was false. The torments they now undergo in this world, they said, presage the eternal fires awaiting them in the next. Rodolphus concluded by observing that the avenging flames entirely con­ sumed the unfortunate souls, reducing them to ashes. Since then, he contin­ued, “everywhere that these believers in perverse doctrines were discovered, they were subject to the same lawful vengeance. And the cult of the venerable catholic faith, the madness of these scoundrels extirpated, shone more brightly everywhere on earth.”43 Even so brief a résumé makes clear that the narrative was cast in terms of dramatic confrontation between a limited number of characters, King Robert and Rodolphus on the one hand, and the two leaders of the heresy, Herbert and Lisoius, on the other. Rodolphus managed to include the multiple representa­ tives of contemporary society in the account without actually according them a particular role in the action. Similarly, even though they do not speak, we have the distinct impression that large numbers of heretics are involved, al­though “only” thirteen are actually burned. Still, Herbert and Lisoius remain the only ones who take an active part in the account and who appear by name. These observations underline the essentially dramatic and concrete nature of the account. Even the modern reader can feel the immediacy of the narra­tive. Rodolphus succeeded in making the abstract philosophical differences a matter of personal struggle. He translated doctrine into the immediate ques­tion: How can man know right and wrong? More cogent yet, How can individ­uals, a Herbert, a Lisoius, a Rodolphus, know these things? Eriugena had already set the stage by casting the difficult, often abstruse doctrinal matters he dealt with in terms of a personal dialogue between the master and his disciple. After five books we know little if anything about the two so far as the minutiae of everyday life may be concerned, but we do know what motivates them, how they think, and how they view the world. Yet Eri­ugena’s characters remain aloof from the real, historical world. Rodolphus bridges the remaining gap between philosophy and history by interpreting real historical events in the light of Eriugenian philosophical premises. Particu­larly important from our viewpoint is the assumption that narrative art may be used to provide a blueprint for life, especially for the confusion and contra­diction of life as lived in a fallen world. To this end, Rodolphus presented a reverse version of the Hebrews in the Fiery Furnace or Christian martyrs tried by fire. For his work, the significant image of the pyre was the anguished cries of recantation emerging from the flames. It seems to have been less an event, important for its historical status as a departure from



previous tradition, than a sign, a statement, a kind of con­temporary version of the burning bush; in short, a theophany in which God has the final word in resolving the human dialectic. No previous narrative attempted to convey so graphically the nature of her­esy as a part of the agonistic struggle of man, with his limited vision, to per­ceive the Light. Rodolphus’s prescience in conceiving the heresy less as a spe­cific historical event circumscribed by time and place than as a perversion of the dialectic by which man knows God through his textualized understanding of the world has been ratified by modern church historians. At least one au­thoritative history of the Church, published in 1948, agrees with Rodolphus in linking the recrudescence of Manichaeism to an abuse of the dialectical meth­ods practiced in the schools.44 Rodolphus had already suggested this in book 2, chapter 11, immediately preceding his account of the outbreak of heresy in Italy. The account merits at least a brief glance. In noting the first appearance in France, in the year 1000, of a populist heresy, he mentions two causes for the phenomenon, the one particular and circumstantial, the other more general. A heretical prophet, a peasant named Leutard, experienced a vision which led him to call into ques­tion the religiopolitical structure of society predicated upon Christian ortho­doxy. Rodolphus describes Leutard’s vision as a grotesque parody of the true theophanic visitation: it prompted the poor man to preach a simple version of faith disjoined from obedience to terrestrial manifestations of religion repre­sented by Church and State. Rodolphus’s treatment of this event makes a double assertion: (1) that Leu­ tard’s views were predicated upon a selective hermeneutics according to which one might choose from among the prophetic sayings of Scripture those which merited belief and those which did not; and (2) that other heresies “in order to lead people astray more certainly, clothed themselves in a cloak of Holy Scrip­ture of which, nonetheless, they were the negation.”45 They were thus the reverse image of the white mantle of revelation with which we began this chapter. Leutard’s selective hermeneutics, from Rodolphus’s perspective, poses slight threat, for it is not based upon a dialectic with the body of Scripture and could not therefore lead to a convincing refutation of Scripture as a holistic represen­ tation of divine intention, thereby undermining the microcosmic view of so­ciety as a mirror of the celestial hierarchy. In short, no mentalist image of the world-asWord is involved. Accordingly, when Leutard was summoned before the “learned bishop” of his diocese, the churchman easily refuted Leutard’s confused patchwork of beliefs, and quickly—Rodolphus asserted—brought those of his flock who had been seduced by Leutard back to the true belief. This incident tells us much about the process which had, for close to a millennium, constituted the Church’s means of dealing with heresy as an internal matter, and by contrast underlines the striking departure from that tradition repre­sented by the subsequent narrative of events at Orléans. No penalty is men­tioned as having been exacted from Leutard, who is



reported to have drowned himself in a well shortly afterward. The second point made by Rodolphus—that the false mantle of Scripture is donned by some heresies—obviously contained a more serious challenge, for it raised the spectre of a rival hermeneutics. It is this threat that provides the drama at Orléans. For in this case it questioned the whole way by which man might know God, as outlined by Eriugena and other Fathers. In essence, the problem posed resembles that evoked by Saint Augustine in his Confessions, the question of truth. How can man know that his re-crea­tionist activity will, in fact, coincide with the “Spirit of Truth,” that is, God’s Word and intention of the world? Augustine’s answer was to evoke the concept of theosis as a special kind of discourse or meaning production governed by virtue, that is, spiritual intentionality, not only on the part of the speaker, but also on the part of the listeners, the addressees. The authenticity of the discourse could, from this perspective, be judged from three basic conditions of meaning predication, all three being given in­ternally within the discourse and therefore made a constitutive part of the meaning recovered by the listener: (1) the discourse will express the speaker’s struggle to intellectualize divinity, and this struggle will imprint on the dis­course a substratum of paradigmatic expressive elements derived from the di­vine discourse the speaker has tried to understand; (2) consequently, the dis­course will contain within itself an image of that struggle in some form or another, generally by revealing the circularity of the process inherent in the idea of procession and return; and (3) the condition of discourse is based upon a triad of participating subjects: the speaker, the primary addressee (God), and the secondary addressee (man). The role of man-as-audience is not gratuitous. Just as God brings to the act of hearing the discourse the grace which may, if bestowed on the speaker, pro­ duce theosis, so man-the-audience must bring to the act of listening the hu­man equivalent of grace, that is, charity. If the discourse is authentic, that is, “true,” then there will be the same coincidence between the intention of hu­man minds, the speaker’s and the listener’s, as between human mind and di­vine intention. Speech which realizes the spirit of truth will thus produce a coincidence of image in all three participants: man the subject of the agon, God, and man the listener, who will thus be able to reproduce for himself the vertical dialectic of the speaker. What have I to do with men, that they should hear my confessions, as if they were to “heal all my diseases?” (1 Cor. 13: 12)…. When they hear me speak about myself, how do they know if I speak the truth, since none among men knows “what goes on within a man but the spirit of man which is in him”? (Eph. 5: 27). But if they should hear about themselves from you, they cannot say, “The Lord lies!” What else is it for them to hear from you about themselves except to know them­selves? Who knows anything and yet says, “It is false,” unless he is a liar? But because “charity believes all things” (cf.



Rom 12: 12) among them whom it unites by binding them to itself, I too, 0 Lord, will confess to you in such manner that men may hear, although I cannot prove to them that I confess truly. But those men whose ears charity opens to me believe me.46

Theology aside, Augustine’s response suggests a narrative strategy already familiar to us. It requires a personalized discourse as representation of an au­ thority whose credibility derives not from the worldly status of the speaker, but from the image of his intention provided in the discourse. This image in turn results less from what is asserted at any given moment than from the totality: to be positive, and therefore true, the discourse must reveal a high enough correlation with the underlying paradigms of scriptural language as to make it appear less the homo eruditus who speaks on his own behalf than the creator who speaks through him. The dynamic elements represented in the agonistic narrative derive not from the perception of events—the situation we found in the first narrative of Orléans—but from the account of individuals’ perception of the world and the truth claims based thereon. They have to do with that ineffable realm, almost as impenetrable as the divine mind, of “what goes on within a man.” Roman­esque narrative evolved as an exciting and still fascinating attempt to resolve this question of human motivation when it learned to pose the question of intentionality not as an abstract philosophical concept, but as a basic element of the dynamic interpretation of historic reality. And that is what Rodolphus attempts in the account of the heresy at Orléans. Apocalypse as Misreading Rodolphus casts the confrontation between orthodoxy and heresy in apocalyptic terms as a conflict between blindness and insight, thereby naturally incor­porating the dynamic of contrasting antagonisms identified by Schapiro as characteristic of Romanesque narrative. We saw earlier that heresy, at this time, evoked the book of Revelation. The narrative structure of Revelation depends upon a vision of hidden supernatural events, certainly, but “it must be understood first and foremost as a tract for the times, written to increase the hope and determination of the Church on earth in a period of distur­bance.”47 The central drama of Revelation springs from a confrontation of true vision and prophecy—represented, on the one hand, by John, the witness and author, and the orthodox worldly institutions and, on the other, the false prophets represented by the Beast and the Prostitute: Antichrist in league with rival worldly powers. In one sense the story repeats that of the Transfiguration, with which we began, but in a context of plurality. On the mountain, the white garments could not be mistaken; in the world, the choice must be made be­tween the authentic



mantle and the counterfeit: the whiteness of true illumi­nation and its inauthentic counterpart. Rodolphus’s drama highlights two opposing pairs of truth claimants: Robert and Rodolphus, on the one hand—Throne and Church—and Herbert and Li­soius, on the other: emissaries of the Beast and the Prostitute, as we shall see. A mythic resonance circumscribes their conflict, since the events at Orléans provide the focal point for a series of disasters in the larger world which show the Church on earth as besieged by hostile forces; at the same time, the suc­cessful countering of this menace at Orléans entails hope for the larger Chris­tian world. Rodolphus’s Historia thus becomes “a tract for the time,” in the same manner as Revelation. The metonymic exchange between Orléans and the larger world begins with a movement of epic scope, which one might imagine as the rhetorical equiva­lent of a cone, with Orléans at the apex and the world horizon at the other. The narrative moves centripetally from the wide end into the narrow focus on events at Orléans, and then, centrifugally, back out to the broader perspective. In the first movement, the general menace to Christianity and the unity of the Christian world, a general theme of book 3, becomes progressively focused on Orléans, where the apocalyptic confrontation occurs and the forces of entropy are defeated. The drama ended, the movement reverses with an expansion of focus projecting the peace and unity achieved at Orléans back onto the Chris­tian world at large. But the story of apocalyptic confrontation at Orléans does not occur in iso­ lation; rather, it is the main act of a drama that begins, by way of prologue, in Jerusalem. Chapter 7 of book 3, immediately preceding the account of the heresy at Orléans, recounts the destruction and miraculous reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The destruction occurs at the hands of the pagan prince of Babylon, while his Christian mother, Mary, per­suades her son to regret his act and to rebuild the central edifice of Christen­dom. The prince of Babylon did not act out of gratuitous hatred for Christian­ity, but was incited to his original deed of desecration by the urging of nonbelievers in Orléans, who sent messengers to Babylon urging the prince to destroy the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.48 In this new apocalyptic age, Babylon must still be feared, but as an agent of the emissaries of Satan, not as the place of greatest danger. The latter lay within the very centers of Christendom itself, Italy, France, and Orléans. Ro­dolphus’s text structures the outbreak of heresy in terms of dialectical pairings predicated upon Revelation. For the heretics, we find the same coupling of perverse female and corrupt male, the Prostitute and the Antichrist, in the Italian woman and the evil grammarian, who subvert hitherto impeccable acolytes such as Herbert and Lisoius. For the Church and Throne, we see the same combination of witness/ author and sacred soldier: Rodolphus and Rob­ert the Pious, who correspond, mutatis mutandis, to John and Christ/Saint Michael. Rodolphus did not make this text a simple calque of Revelation, however, but rather a dialectical adaptation in



Figure 1. Saint-Pierre, Moissac. Portal. 1100–1130. St. Pterre, Moissac, France. [Tympanum showing Christ-in-Majesty, surrounded by animal representatives of the Evangelists and the twenty-four elders of the Apocalypse.

terms of his own times that stressed both the difficulty of the struggle to interpret the truth and the need for a strong leader as guide. Thus the Antichrist figure is a grammarian, and the chief sin of the fallen clerks lies in perverting their dialectical training—their capacity for reproduc­ ing the image of God in man. They turn from God as the primary addressee of their discourse to a purely human interlocutor, thereby constructing a perspec­tive of the world that would be purely horizontal in character, lacking its ver­tical, transcendent dimension. Gregory of Nazianzen had pointed out that a world predicated upon purely human discourse displaced the Divine Logos, that is, theologia, by the human logos, that is, reason uncontrolled by faith. The result, from the theological perspective, separated the individual from the Church, the agent and witness of the diffusion of enlightenment throughout the world. It divided heaven from earth, history from eternity.49 We have seen that the orthodox view imposed a vertical perspective accord­ ing to which contemplation of created things in the lower world should lead to recognition of a hierarchy running from the world up to heaven and beyond to the Prime Mover. In denying this vertical continuum, the horizontal per­spective of the heretics—as represented by Rodolphus—obviously negates the prevailing orthodoxy. Had Rodolphus elected simply to declare the heretics wrong and let it go at that, there would be no particular interest in his account from the viewpoint



of the evolution of Romanesque narrative techniques. Happily, he chose instead to illustrate the nature of the heretics’ failed her­meneutics in contrast to the correct dialectical framework adopted by the positive characters. In so doing, he offers the first example of a clearly con­ceived and executed biaxial narrative structure, the form that will play so im­portant a role in later Romanesque art and literature. In order to represent the opposing pairs of characters in terms of the image and meaning production that rendered them either positive (orthodox) or neg­ ative (heretical), Rodolphus utilized a narrative structure that distributes them along two axes, the one vertical and transcendent (anagogic), the other horizontal, purely historic and linear. These axes are realized through the cumu­ lative effect of the actions and discourses of the different groups of characters in relation to the dominant narrative frame. They function as a kind of narra­ tive determinacy helping to establish and maintain a readily tabulated distinc­ tion between the narrative groups. Naturally, the privileged characters are those whose cumulative words and deeds correlate with the positive axis, which in the agonistic narrative of directed vision can only be vertical. The technique of biaxial narrative structure is somewhat akin to the distri­ bution of figures on a Romanesque tympanum, where the humans tend to be set in horizontal registers, while the theophanic Christ figure—as at Moissac, Vézelay, Autun, Beaulieu, Saint Denis, and others—cuts vertically across these bands at the center of the image field to make a dominant vertical axis.50 If we look, for example, at the tympanum of Moissac (fig. 1 ), we see that the theo­phanic figure of Christ— as we shall find to be the case for King Robert in our narrative—represents a point of immobility in the center of the tympanum to which the rest of the composition is both related and contrasted, the contrast and relation being the same: the motion of the other figures versus the stasis of the Christ image (fig. 2). His is the only figure not engaged in some motion. All of the others are contorted so as to emphasize the movement of the heads and eyes toward the frontally portrayed Christ (fig. 3). Similarly, in Last Judgment scenes, such as Giselbertus’s creation at Autun (fig. 4), all of the human figures are engaged in movement toward or away from Christ. The elect, on Christ’s right hand, have vertically elongated bodies, some of them twice to three times the height of the bodies of the damned. These figures, as though to emphasize their association with the vertical axis made by Christ and the mandorla that contains him (fig. 5), seem to rupture the horizontality of their narrative space. Thanks to the split-level composi­tion and the progressively greater height of the figures it contains, the register on Christ’s right hand conveys the feeling of a gradually rising movement which becomes more sharply defined in its verticality as one’s eye approaches the theophanic image at the center of the tympanum. This impression is con­veyed by individual figures and by the cumulative effect of the repetition of postures from one figure to the next. The figures vary in height and impor­tance, but all move in some way toward Christ.



Figure 2. Christ. Detail from tympanum of south porch portal. Saint-Pierre, Moissac, France.

The representation of the newly resurrected souls on the lintel marks even more strikingly the correlation between narrative axes and metaphysical sig­ nification. The image field of the lintel is a narrow horizontal band whose dimensions are further emphasized by the fact that the top of the lintel sharply divides the space of the lintel from the rest of the composition and serves as the support on which the bottom of the mandorla containing Christ rests. And yet, upon closer examination, the narrative of the figures contained in the lintel overcomes the horizontality which appears visually so dominant. The narrative space of the lintel is split into two halves by an angel with a sword immediately below Christ’s feet. The figures on the angel’s right hand are the souls who will be saved. They are shepherded along toward the center by an­other angel who points up toward the theophanic Christ above them. The final figure in this procession stands directly below Christ, gazing upward with an expression of rapture, and so forms a continuation of the vertical axis while still remaining the last unit in the horizontal procession of the saved. His position at the conjunction of



Figure 3. Four Kings (elders od the Apocalypse), detail from south porch portal. SaintPierre, Moissac, France.

in the horizontal procession of the saved. His position at the conjunction of the vertical and horizontal axes receives still further emphasis from the unique position of his body: portrayed more fron­tally than his colleagues, he is nonetheless turned toward them with his back toward the other side of the lintel. From far right (Christ’s right) to center, the procession moves horizontally, but always with eyes and heads turned upward, to the point of vertical ascension to Christ. In contrast, the figures of the damned on the opposite side of the lintel move away from the center, propelled by the thrust of the angel with the sword, their heads downcast, their eyes, like their bodies, turned away from Christ. But this movement away from Christ is limited, for near the far end of this register the hands of a demon come down to scoop up the damned (fig. 6) to bring them to the scales of justice. There they are weighed and judged next to Christ, whose left hand points to that scene. Both the saved and the damned thus come back to Christ, as it were, but the means in each case are different. There is no mechanical contrivance to elevate the saved souls from lintel to paradise; their constant gaze toward the theophanic image constitutes the vi­sual equivalent of the verbal dialectic described by Augustine and Eriugena. It is the damned, those who have avoided intellecting the Light, who find them­selves forcibly reintegrated with the vertical axis. These examples correspond to the contrast made by Eriugena in book 5 of De Divisione Naturae between the constant motion of humans in the world and



the immutable divinity, “which moves only immobilely in itself.” There, Eriugena

Figure 4. Giselbertus (active first half 12th century CE). Last Judgment. Ca. 1130. Cathedral Saint-Lazare, Autun, France.

quotes Gregory of Nyssa, who “reasons that our rational nature as mutable is always in motion towards or away from God, the Good. If it moves toward Him, the motion will never terminate for the distance is infinite. If it moves away from Him, it reaches the limit of evil but cannot stop its motion and turns back in the direction of God.”51 Translated into narrative terms, this means that while all humans experi­ence the same horizontal space of the lower world initially, some will try to transcend it by the exercise of their rational natures, that is, through the agon­istic discourse and actions suggested by the Augustinian and Eriugenian ex­amples. The cumulative thrust of their discourse and actions—even if the pro­tagonists may be temporarily mistaken at some point along the way, as happens in the more complex narratives found in the chansons de geste—will correlate with the vertical frame. The irrational characters, however, engage in action that denies the existence of the vertical axis or doubts its efficacy. They pursue a purely linear goal until the end, when they are disproved—as are the heretics in the Orléans narrative—and returned to God for judgment via execution.52 To say the same thing in a slightly different way, both groups of characters engage in image-making. The image of the world produced by the positive characters will coordinate with the orthodox world view espoused by the nar­rator and thus establish their progression from the horizontal to the vertical narrative axis. The



Figure 5. Saint-Lazare, Autun. Tympanum (detail): Christ-in-Majesty, (Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY.

negative characters, in contrast, will offer an image of the world that reverses and diminishes the one proposed by the narrator and posi­tive characters.53 In the Orléans narrative, Rodolphus employs three means to represent the heretics as fixed in a linear, nontranscendent state-of-being: (1) the language by which they are depicted, both that of the narrator and their own; (2) the asymmetrical religio-political image of the world given by the heretics; (3) the negative mythic valence accorded to them by the scriptural subtext evoked by the narrative. We have already seen two examples of these discoordinating narrative de­vices: the mythical correlation of Herbert and Lisoius with the servants of the beast in Revelation (the followers of the false prophet); and the narrator’s pe­jorative distancing of himself and the reader from the clerics when they were introduced. Other examples abound in the text. Of more dramatic interest, however, is the manner in which the narrative presents the asymmetrical world view produced by the “perverse” dialectic of the heretics. First of all, they are represented as discoordinate from the kind of



temporal continuity that characterizes orthodox Christians. Their historical origin, Rodolphus reminds us, comes not from positive scriptural authority but from a negative apostolic presage: “We urge all the faithful to calm their minds by this prophecy of the Apostle who, foreseeing this kind of treachery in the future, proclaimed: ‘It is proper that there be heresies in order to dem­onstrate those who truly have faith.”54 This asymmetry of their spiritual life corresponds to the equally irregular image they project on the worldly level. The efforts of Herbert and Lisoius, acting alone, to co-opt the priest of Rouen has the opposite effect from their intention. At Orléans, the scene is even more striking. There, King Robert convokes a synod composed of all the ecclesiastical orders and lay hierarchy. The king himself sits at the head of this council, in the church whose con­struction we witnessed in book 2.55 In this setting, before the symbolically ordered audience, in the cathedral so rich in connotation for Rodolphus’s read­ers, the heretics must expose their opposing view of the world. The asymmetry of the scene could hardly be more telling: the heretics have no body politic to support them; they have no religious orders or patristic tradition to support their heterodox interpretation of Scripture; they have no sacred locus, no church of their own. They do not even possess a “language” of their own, since almost all of what they say appears as indirect discourse.

Figure 6. Saint-Lazare, Autun. Main portal (de­tail): Damned soul being taken up for judg­ment.



They do actually have one line of direct discourse, which simply serves to underscore the strategy of representing the heretics as cut off from a truly signifying language by their heresy. Nothing in the text lends credibility to their one direct assertion; everything disconfirms it. They announce grandi­osely to the assembled representatives of Church and State: “We have em­braced this sect that you have been so slow to discover for a long time; but now we expect you and all the others from every state and condition to join it too; and we believe that this will yet come to pass.”56 The disparity between word and world, as each appears in the text, could hardly be greater. These heretical leaders cannot succeed in making good their assertion because, lacking authoritative texts of their own, without a language of their own, they cannot produce a narrative to rival that of the orthodox faith. Without it, they cannot represent reality in such a way as to make their views consonant for the rest of the community, with its perception of reality. The final scene of the narrative may be read as the ironic reversal of this main scene of confrontation. There, too, the heretics will speak, but in a way that separates them from their earlier position and ironically reintegrates them with the orthodox episteme. Just as the tympanum at Autun will later make the same point, Rodolphus shows that the linear progression in evil has finite limits; in the moment before coming face to face with Christ, the here­tics see themselves, and are seen, as belonging to that all-too-common ortho­dox category, the damned. With that ironic reversal, which we will discover to be typical of Romanesque narrative, the one powerful statement the heretics make in the whole narrative, and the one confirmed by contextual reality, comes from the center of the flaming pyre. The heretics are literally destroyed by the image they have made of them­ selves, an image of the Foolish Virgins rather than of the homines eruditi they pretended to be. And like the Foolish Virgins, the heretics do not discover the Light through their own efforts—by the lamp of the mind—but only by the light of the Abyss, the fiery lake into which the beast and the false prophet were cast in Revelation 19: 20. It is a perfect ending, given the purpose of directed vision, for it brings the literal and symbolic levels of the narrative together in a reassertion of orthodoxy, while “proving” that the linear or hori­zontal narrative not only always ends with a reaffirmation of the primacy of the vertical axis, the axis of progression and return, but also with a recognition that it is only in reference to the vertical dialectic that the horizontal, histor­ical level has any meaning at all. This explains, in good measure, why it will be impossible for historical or historically grounded narrative to exist in any capacity other than as exemplum of the transcendent fideist world view throughout the Middle Ages. Even Froissart, who comes perhaps closest to our idea of the historian interested in history for its own sake, subscribes to a vision of history as the deeds and influence of “Great



Men” that Rodolphus Glaber would certainly recognize and approve. Indeed, Froissart’s Chronicles are a not-so-distant mirror of Rodolphus’s Historiae. The Predication of Insight We have seen enough of the narrative theory evolved by Rodolphus to know that the dynamic antagonism of contrasting elements on which it is based cannot be controlled or even predicated by the negative characters. The sense of discoordination consistently projected by Herbert and Lisoius derives from the strong narrative framework associated with the positive characters, King Robert and Rodolphus, that is, Rodolphus-as-protagonist participating directly in the dialectic against the heretics. In considering their role, however, we recognize a further division in the structure. Whereas Herbert and Lisoius ap­pear equal—they speak and act together, representing one undifferentiated or­der of being—Robert and Rodolphus represent two complementary but hier­archically differentiated sources of meaning production. Rodolphus-as-protagonist represents the kinesis of human motion described by Eriugena. He engages in the hermeneutic agon that illustrates and justifies the concept of the homo eruditus threatened by Herbert and Lisoius. To do so, he, too, must act on the same narrative axis as the heretics, but, like the por­trayal of the saved souls on the lintel of Autun, his progression along the hor­izontal plane will be marked by a continual ratification of the vertical dimen­sion, a verbal equivalent of the gaze fixed on Christ that characterized the represented souls at Autun. Robert, for reasons that will be apparent later, embodies the stasis of the divine order and so functions as the primary source of the microcosmic imagery in the narrative. Like the theophanic Christ figure on a Romanesque tympanum, Robert represents the static image of divinity unaffected by the motion of man; Rodolphus-as-protagonist, on the other hand, illustrates the language humans must use to recover that truth as a prin­ciple for living-in-theworld as a transcendent enterprise. Like Christ’s image on a tympanum, King Robert’s presence dominates the narrative; all acts make sense only to the extent that they relate to his pres­ ence and function. Rodolphus-as-protagonist is a necessary adjuvant whose role consists in performing the agonistic struggle which will disconfirm the heretics’ claims and justify their dying judgment, but it also explains the king’s real and symbolic status. Situated as it is in the midst of the narrative about the king’s ritual cleansing of the city of Orléans and his kingdom, Ro­dolphus’s intervention provides the epistemological justification for the status of the king at the summit of the human hierarchy at a moment of great im­portance for the history of the European kingship. In the face of a serious chal­lenge to the fideist world order on which the principle of monarchy was pred­icated, it articulates the concept



of celestial and human hierarchy, the concept on which rested the image of the monarch as a sacred being. Rodolphus consciously, if modestly, declares his status as a homo eruditus at the beginning of the intervention, which resolves into two coordinated parts that move from refutation of the heretics’ chief contention—that God is not the author of all created things—to an exposition of christology as the model for human existence. The reader does not get very far into the section without becoming aware that the whole intervention posits a subtext based upon Eri­ugena; it is literally a paraphrase of some basic tenets of philosophical anthro­pology articulated by him. By a simple process of narrative indirection, Rodolphus sets up the transi­ tion from historical reconstruction to philosophy. He simply recast the prin­cipal beliefs of the heretics, introduced for purposes of refutation, in terms which make them the dialectical opposite of Eriugena’s creationist tenets. It was then perfectly natural to introduce the Eriugenian paraphrase by way of refutation. In one stroke, as it were, Rodolphus not only assured that his words would appear true, that is, consonant with accepted belief, he also assumed the mantle of authority such that the heretics could not attempt to disconfirm his vision without undertaking to rebut the full weight of Patristic thought. This intertextual coordination of Rodolphus with the Fathers naturally underlines the discrepant status of the heretics vis-à-vis the same tradition. They cannot be right because they do not properly utilize the dialectic of knowledge and wisdom (“scientia ac sapientia”) which would allow them to know God’s existence through his created world.57 Above all, they cannot find God in man and therefore must deny the efficacy of the Trinity. Rodolphus invokes here Eriugena’s concept of procession and return and the hierarchical chain of being, both material and spiritual, predicated upon it.58 He moves naturally from this concept to the freedom man receives from God to participate positively in this cycle of procession and return by using the gift of reason (for example, in the manner Rodolphus demonstrates in the intervention) to engage in the interpretive agon. Man himself determines his position on the chain of being, according to whether he chooses the agonistic way or not. If he does, his place will be with the higher, spiritual beings; if not, then with the lower, purely material creatures. Those who brashly deviate from the documentum, the Scripture given in Christ, serve as negative mod­els.59 God, Rodolphus says, knew that man would mostly choose the easier path and thus fall away from realizing his potential.60 This is why—and here Rodolphus reaches the heart of the subject so far as its application to his own narrative is concerned—over the centuries God sent positive examples of the agonistic model of man into the world, and particularly why he sent the Ideal Man, that is, Christ. The intervention goes on to develop the ways by which man, in taking Christ for his model—and the Scripture, which is also the image Christ took in the world—



can learn to carry on the dialectic with Scripture and created being that will help him to realize the imago Christi in himself. Much is made of man’s responsibility to be an image-maker, since, of all creatures, man alone was chosen to replicate God in himself, Christ being the model of that image.61 Those who deny God are precisely the ones who refuse to accept the simulta­neous burden of intellectual agon and the resultant image-making. Ultimately, these are the men at the origin of all heresy; for heresy, finally, is a refusal to make the image of God in oneself.62 It is not Rodolphus’s derivative christology that interests us here, but the use he made of it to equate theological anthropology and narrative form. Even so brief a summary of the long intervention suggests that it provides a concep­ tual understanding of the narrative as a whole, not only in terms of idea, but also in terms of personae. Rodolphus offers his own version of the Augustinian concept of theosis as a special kind of confessional discourse whose purpose and authenticity derive from its ability to show the coincidence between hu­ man and divine intention. Indeed, the intervention meets the three basic con­ ditions of meaning production demanded by the Augustinian model. As a re­sult, Rodolphus-as-protagonist acquires the status of reliable narrator, of an authentic homo eruditus who demonstrates precisely why the heretics should be condemned. More importantly, however, we can see that the conditions for the meaning of the narrative as a whole are given in the intervention. It makes explicit the intention of the author in undertaking the historical reconstruc­tion of reality that constitutes the surrounding narrative. In particular, the repeated insistence on Christ as model and man as imago Christi, an image of the model, sets up the expectation of and conditions for theosis that King Rob­ert will be made to represent. We must recognize that Rodolphus’s narrative does not yet provide the fullfledged realization of the agonistic narrative that one finds, for example, in later vernacular texts of the period such as the Vie de Saint Alexis or the Chan­son de Roland. In these texts, the agonistic hero will act, as well as speak, his struggle and be faced by difficult and conflicting choices in seeking the vertical path. Nevertheless, in demonstrating the difference between the agonistic hero and his opposite, the willfully unenlightened human, and above all in predicating that difference on their various capacities for image-making, par­ticularly the ability of the heroes to replicate in themselves an imago Christi, Rodolphus discovered a principle of Romanesque narrative. If we translate this discovery into modern terms, we would say that Rodol­ phus developed an artistic means for bringing the symbol structures of society into parallel with the representation of phenomenal reality as normative ex­perience. In other words, he developed a means for representing contemporary life as narrative history, that is, as a controlled representation of events to bring them into consonance with the cultural norms underlying the social structure of the period. The basis for the agonistic element in this narrative is the representation of the



conflict inherent in the attempt to integrate physical relationships with symbolic structure, the world as experienced with the world as defined by religion. In this case, however, the symbolic structure it­self provided an agonistic model: Christ’s own narrative history. Recognition that historiated narrative might be used for such purposes played an important role in the official encouragement progressively given to public and monumental art in the eleventh century. In 1025, the council of Arras, convened to deal with a new outbreak of heresy, argued in favor of ecclesias­tical art as a means for representing to the laity the efficacy of image-making as a constitutive part of individual worship, that is, internalization of the dom­inant symbol system in one’s personal life. In other words, the council was urging that art be used to demonstrate the necessary parallelism of the cultu­ral symbol and phenomenal reality, which is exactly what Rodolphus’s work did.63 Drama of Theosis The third and final aspect of the drama of heresy at Orléans is the theosis of King Robert in chapter 8 of book 3. Like the narrator, he, too, participates in an agon, but one of more cosmic significance than that of the homo eruditus. King Robert stands above and beyond the conflict between blindness and in­sight. That was a conflict of personal significance: the struggle of every Chris­tian on his path toward God. In his capacity as an individual man, Robert had presumably to engage in that struggle as well, for he is described as “most learned and most Christian” (ut erat doctissimus ac christianissimus), but that aspect of the king’s story lies outside the bounds of Rodolphus’s account. In this story, Robert is not simply an individual; he is a king, and as king he has two natures, “human and divine, or rather, in the language of that age, human by nature, divine by grace.”64 His struggle, then, consists of trying to make manifest the divinity of his office through the “truth” of his acts. He must realize in his human person the trinitarian ideal as a model for historical action. Since that ideal was already implicit in the symbolic value accorded to the king as “christomimētēs, the impersonator and actor of Christ,”65 we might say that Robert’s struggle, as represented by Rodolphus, consisted in predicating his literal, historical actions in terms of a symbolic model drawn, on the one hand, from the christology outlined by Rodolphus in his interven­tion, and, on the other, from a specific set of scriptural texts; in this case the subtexts for the translatio gestorum will be triumphant Psalms. To accom­plish this end, the narrator utilizes the ternary structure we have witnessed in the previous narrative phases in a particularly interesting way, as we shall see shortly. King Robert occupies a different position from the other characters in that the chapter forms part of an ongoing portrait of the king, one begun earlier in



Figure 7. Reichenau evangelary. Apotheosis of the emperor Otto II (c. 990). Aachen, Cathedral Treasure.

the Historiae and developed in the previous chapters of book 3. The heresy at Orléans is the last occurrence of Robert’s reign that Rodolphus chooses to re­ cord, aside from his death. It thus constitutes the culmination of his struggle to realize, in his historical person, the ideality of kingship Rodolphus ascribed to him. Contextually, the situation of the chapter must be remarked: the eighth chapter of the third book (Robert’s death occurs in the ninth and last chapter), it follows the account in chapter 7 of the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Jerusalem to the faithful. Similarly, Robert stands as the last survivor of the three great men of his time described by Rodolphus at the beginning of book 3 as “men whose life and works furnished models worthy of imitation”: Emperor Henry II of Germany, King Robert, and Pope Benedict. This final act of Robert’s reign thus represents an epiphany of Ro­dolphus’s dramatic re-creation of the events of his time, a record designed to show how God provides models in the fallen world for men to emulate in order to overcome the entropy inherent in the world as distinct from the stasis of the celestial order. Drawing upon the theories of the dual status of king as man and sacred being which were then current, Rodolphus portrayed King Robert as real and as sym­bolic, and consequently as the only person in the account to function



simul­taneously on the two narrative axes, the historic and the agonistic. The inno­ vation of this portrait does not lie in the concept of the geminate person itself, but in the successful realization of the narrative agon inherent in the concept. Because we see the king realize his symbolic status through his historical ac­tions, the narrative demonstrates the reciprocal exchange of signification be­tween the historical figure, King Robert, and the symbolic ideal of king as christomimētēs. We may better understand Rodolphus’s innovation if we look at an illumi­ nation, dating from the early part of the 990s, showing the apotheosis of the emperor Otto II (fig. 7). Preserved in an evangelary prepared for Otto II by a monk of Reichenau named Liutharius, the illumination now forms part of the treasure of Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel in Aachen.66 It shows the emperor seated in majesty, like the images of Christ on the Romanesque tympanums we looked at earlier, surrounded by a mandorla and holding the imperial insignia, a world orb surmounted by a cross, in his right hand. Parenthetically, we might note that this insignia figures in book 1 of the Historiae, where Rodolphus says that it was first devised by Pope Benedict VIII and bestowed on Henry II in 1014. The painting shows Otto spanning the distance between heaven and earth: a personified figure of Terra supports the throne on which Otto sits, while the top of the mandorla containing his head intersects with the circle containing the Hand of God which touches the emperor’s forehead. Behind God’s hand, we see a cross whose base appears to rest on the top of Otto’s head, so that his whole person seems to be surmounted by a cross and thus reproduces, in his person, the image of the world orb surmounted by a cross which he holds in his right hand. The dual nature of the monarch may be discerned from the position of the veil that separates his bust from the rest of the body. This veil, as Kantorowicz showed, is actually The Veil, that is the curtain of the tabernacle which, according to the oldest Eastern tradition, symbolizes the sky separating earth from heaven…the interpretation of the veil of the tabernacle as “sky” was very common in the West as well…. Now the sky-curtain, according to Exodus (26: 31f), was hung before four pillars. Those pillars were often identified with the four corners of the world….67 The fact that in this illustration the four animal symbols of the Evangelists hold the veil reminds us of the strong identification that existed by the late tenth century between Scripture and the physical world, the two paths of ac­cess to the knowledge of God, as Eriugena held. He specifically analogized the world and Scripture: “Holy Scripture is an intelligible world constituted by four parts, just as the world is constituted by four elements.”68 Here, we find another connection between the world and Scripture, linked through the body of the emperor: Scripture contained the law governing the world; the divine provenience and force of that law appear from the fact that the Evangelists who signify it, the Hand of God who created it,and the crowned head of the emperor who must enforce it lie



Figure 8. Reconstruction of triclinium mosaic of Leo III, formerly in Lateran palace, Rome. Saint Peter bestowing the pallium on Pope Leo III and the vexillum on the emperor Char­lemagne (c. 800).

on the celestial side of the veil, while the agents who will assist the emperor to impose it stand below the veil, on the terrestrial side, and pay homage to Otto’s person. Kantorowicz observed that the striking illustration of the two natures of the monarch, underlined so graphically by the veil, constituted an essential part of the christological thematic of the work. Not only was the emperor por­trayed “in the maiestas of Christ, on the throne of Christ, holding his open and empty left hand like Christ, with the mandorla of Christ and with the animal symbols of the four



Gospels which are almost inseparable from the images of Christ in majesty,”69 he was also shown to have the two natures of Christ. Saint Augustine had coined a term for this geminate characteristic which the painter obviously reproduces when he shows Otto, like Christ, with his feet on earth, but his head in heaven: “pedes in terra, caput in caelo.” 70 Kantorowicz did not, however, comment on the repetition of the earth sym­ bols in the painting nor upon the septiform and cruciform principles of com­ position. Although the vertical axis constituted by the divine aureola with the Hand of God, the emperor and the mandorla containing him, and the personi­fied figure of Terra cannot be missed, we must not ignore the horizontal axis which contributes so much to the overall meaning of the composition. The earth symbols help us to understand how biaxial narrative form produces theo­sis. Two symbols signify the world: the personification, Terra, supporting the emperor’s throne, and the world orb held in his right hand. The latter appears as a prominent part of the horizontal axis constituted by the arms outstretched from Otto’s body. The festoon of the veil, curved down over the emperor’s chest, requires that the arms be extended at somewhat unnatural angles from the waist, the midpoint of his body, rather than from the shoulders, since the arms, the means by which the emperor will carry out his terrestrial role, must appear below the veil. The position of the arms imparts a cruciform posture to the emperor, whose body thus reiterates the cross motif found both on top of the world orb in his hand and above his head. The displacement of the orb onto the horizontal axis shows how the artist drew upon the two levels of meaning inherent in the metaphoric identification of Otto as Christ and emperor. At the same time, it illustrates how he managed to signal the presence of an interpretive subtext to give increased connotation to the image. The orb sits in the emperor’s right hand, the hand which, in the usual image of the Christ-in-Majesty, is raised to bestow Christ’s pastoral blessing. The imperial right hand, however, assumes a different position and engages in a different kind of pastoral activity. Traditionally, it signifies the emperor’s might, his function as “the strong right arm of God,” as we see in the reproduction of a mosaic (fig. 8) which originally formed part of Pope Leo III’s triconch triclinium in the Lateran palace, the official papal residence in Pope Leo’s time (795–816). The mosaic shows Saint Peter bestowing the pallium (a symbol of papal authority) on Pope Leo—who had crowned Charlemagne emperor on 25 De­ cember 800—while at the same time placing the vexillum, or battle-standard, in Charlemagne’s right hand.71 This banner later became the Oriflamme, the official standard of France. The Chanson de Roland describes how this banner, “which used to be Saint Peter’s,” flew at the head of Charlemagne’s army when he took the field against the Saracens.72 The image of the world sitting in the right hand sent by God to defend His creation casts a triumphal aura over the composition, and rightly so, in



Figure 9. Saint Denis (?). Psalter of Charles the Bald: Portrait of Charles (between A.D. 842 and 869 c.e.). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. 1152, fol. 3v)

Kan­torowicz’s view, since the miniature illustrates a triumphal Psalm. Commissioned, as apparently he was, to design a triumphal image of the emperor, [the Reichenau artist] naturally turned to Psalm 91 [Vulgate 90] and consulted Au­g ustine’s commentary. For Psalm 91 was the great Victory Psalm, the “imperial” Psalm par excellence according to oldest tradition, because it contains the famous versicle [v. 13]: “You will tread on lion and adder, trample on savage lions and dragons.73

The Psalm bears the title Protectio Dei (God’s Protection) in the Vulgate, and the closing lines articulate very well the role of triumphant defender of the faith ascribed to the monarch, at least in theory, at this time: I rescue all who cling to me, I protect whoever knows my name, I answer everyone who invokes me,



I am with them when they are in trouble; I bring them safety and honor.

[Ps. 91: 14–15]

Rodolphus Glaber certainly conceived the relationship between world orb and imperial office in terms of Psalm 91 when he said of the insignia which Pope Benedict conferred on Henry II: “The view of this globe was intended to re­mind the ruler of the earthly empire that he must govern, and in which he must make war without other concerns than to merit being protected by the image of the life-giving cross” (my italics).74 The figure of Terra provides another example of the emperor’s christologi­cally based world dominance. Whereas the world orb represented the world-­as-Law, Terra symbolizes the natural or fallen world with all its entropic po­tential. Terra does indeed support the imperial throne, but it is also crushed into submission by the force of this emperor who, like Christ, spans the space between heaven and earth. Why, we might well ask, does the world orb figure on the horizontal axis, while the fallen world constitutes part of the vertical? Should it not be the other way around? Terra’s place on the vertical axis recapitulates the very story summarized in the world orb symbol, for it was God-the-Father who created the Logos, or Second Person of the Trinity, in order to subject the earth. In the Reichenau miniature, Otto stands in place of the Christ figure, the Second Person of the Trinity. It is he who subjects unruly Earth and offers to the viewer an ordered image of the world in his right hand. Parenthetically, we might note how the artistic structure reinforces the relationship between these three units: the orb, Otto, and Earth. Terra’s head, bowed by the weight of the throne, inclines to the right, thus reiterating the bias of Otto’s own head and eyes. A diagonal axis projected from the bowed head and torso of Terra leads one’s eye upward to the world orb in the emperor’s right hand, just as Otto’s eyes seem cast obliquely downward toward the orb. Moving to the composition as a whole, we note that the repeated cruciform images correspond to an obvious septiform structure. There are seven human figures—excluding the personified Terra—in the part of the miniature that lies below the veil. These figures are arranged in two registers: the bottom part consisting of two warriors and two archbishops; the upper, of the two crowned figures and Otto himself. This septiform pattern repeats in the upper part of the miniature, where we find the four animal symbols of the Evangelists, the bust of the emperor, the Hand of God, and the cross. As we shall see in chapter 3, the symbolism of what Kantorowicz termed this “uncompromisingly chris­tocentric period of Western civilization—roughly the monastic period from 900 to A.D. 1100” 75 —equated septiform and cruciform symbolism. This is but one more example of the metaphoric “language” of the painting whereby christological symbolism provides the setting on which



Figure 10. Saint Denis (?). Sacramentary. Allegor­ical representation of the coronation of Charles the Bald flanked by the archbishops of Trèves and Rheims (c. 870). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. 1141, fol. 2v)

Otto has been super­imposed. If the equation of Otto with Christ did not work, the composition would have no meaning; it would be simply pretentious. Fortunately, it does work, and we may now begin to understand why this should be so. The answer lies in the nature of theosis, an aspect of the painting that has never, to my knowledge, been fully explained. Let us begin by looking at the Hand of God. Kantorowicz described it as “reaching down from above, from heaven, either to impose or to touch and bless the diadem on the em­ peror’s head.” 76 Other scholars agree.77 This seems a reasonable explanation in light of Carolingian illuminations, like that of the Psalter of Charles the Bald, which shows the emperor seated in majesty holding the orb and sceptre with the Hand of God bestowing a blessing on him from the peak of the tabernacle (fig. 9). Similarly, the allegorical representation of the crowning of Charles the Bald, from a sacramentary completed around 870, shows the Hand of God ac­tually holding or imposing a crown (fig. 10).



In the apotheosis of Otto II, however, the Hand of God neither holds the crown nor hovers above it. The crown readily appears through the open fin­gers, so there is no question but that it is actually behind them and not the object of whatever the hand is doing. In fact, the hand goes beyond the diadem and the fingers clearly rest on the forehead. Furthermore, the index and middle fingers seem to designate the emperor’s eyes—they are slightly spread so that the middle finger points straight down to the right eye, while the index finger curves toward the left eye. The forehead and the eyes, then, are the object of the blessing bestowed by the right Hand of God. The blessing may well con­stitute a form of unction, but by this very gesture the Hand of God designates the donum perfectum of which the king is the recipient. This mixture of the human and the divine makes the king a special person, the object of divine grace. The graphic juxtaposition of the Hand of God on Otto’s forehead pro­vides an image of the commingling of the divine and human, the procession and return, which distinguished theosis.78 Now the mind and the eyes were precisely the means of perception that Eriugena designated as essential to the process of theosis—at least for the hu­man participant. He showed that the trinitarian concept could become a con­stituent of the individual’s movement toward theosis through a metaphoric conflation of the triune principles of the Godhead with the expressive activity of the mind. He identified three stages in the evolution of thought, from intuition to expression, which he then equated with the three creative principles of the Trinity in order to demonstrate how human reason, and the activity predicated upon the rational process, could produce theophany. The Godhead as a whole creates the world, but it is possible to distinguish the role proper to each Person, or as Eriugena prefers, each Substance. All three are identical in essence, but the Father is the ultimate principle of all creation who begets the Son, His Word, in whom all things are made as unitary ideas; these ideas are then multiplied and distributed in descending logical order by the Holy Spirit.79

This trinitarian view of divine creative activity provides Eriugena with a model for the symbolling activity of humans. To establish and maintain the parallelism between the creative Substances of the Trinity and the human ra­tional process, Eriugena conceives of the latter in Trinitarian terms: (1) essence (“ousia”); (2) reason (“logos”) or power (“dynamis”); and (3) sense (“dianoia”) or operation (“energeia”).80 For Eriugena, these elements define the very es­sence of the soul and being of man. As God is One in Three, so each creature manifests in its ontological structure a triadic character reflecting Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although every substance or cause is an indivisible unit, within it can be distinguished its essence [ousia], its power [dynamis], and its operation [energeia]. A being is,



it is capable of something, and it is effective in what it does. As God is both Beginning and End, or in Aristo­telian terminology, both efficient and final cause of the universe, so each real being is both efficient and final cause, a center of creativity mirroring that of its Creator. 81

Eriugena argues, in effect, that the exercise of the intellect in human creationist activity constitutes a theophany, “a showing forth of the multiplicity of God’s power.” As man ascends toward God by the exercise of intellect, God descends toward man, who is other than God but not outside of him because, as Eriugena never tires of repeating, God creates himself in his created objects. In the christological climate of the time, this concept of the intellect as the essence of the soul had more to do with the evolution of the identity of king­ship in general, and with the apotheosis of Otto II in particular, than it might seem at first blush. The conjunction of the intellect as theophany and the monarch as christomimētēs, but specifically as a principle of logos, or reason, bears witness to an important step in the evolution of monarchic theory. To the divine qualities invested in the king’s person by the anointing with sacred oil and the imposition of the crown, the symbol of the Law,” we find conjoined yet another: the christological virtue of logos, or intellect. The monarch thus becomes a translatio of the Second Person of the Trinity, symbolizing not just the Law as a principle of rule but the rational process by which it is imple­mented with divine grace. This concept differs from the coronation in presup­posing the monarch’s active participation in the vertical dialectic with God; it conjoins the agonistic struggle outlined in Eriugena’s system with the other duties imposed by the monarchical office.83 Fortunately, we can document in the Ottonian court this evolution of the concept of intellect as a royal quality. A monk of Reichenau painted the apoth­eosis of Otto in the decade of the 990s. In 997, Gerbert of Aurillac, soon to become Pope Sylvester II, visited Reichenau. As we saw in chapter 1, Gerbert exercised enormous political influence as well as intellectual ascendancy over the statesmen of his time. A protégé of the emperor Otto II, he served as tutor to his son, Otto III, known as the mirabilia mundi, who reigned as Holy Ro­man Emperor from 996 to 1002.84 Gerbert performed the same function for Robert the Pious, at the behest of Hugh Capet, his father. Rodolphus Glaber acknowledged Gerbert as his mas­ter, as did Richer, with whom we began. Otto III testified to the intellectual influence Gerbert exercised on him when he wrote to him: “We wish to attach to our person the excellence of your very loving self, so revered by all, and we seek to affiliate with ourself the perennial steadfastness of such a patron be­cause the extent of your philosophical knowledge has always been for our sim­plicity an authority not to be scorned.”85 Gerbert consistently advanced Eriugenian principles in his own work in sci­ ence, ecclesiastical and royal governance, and in his vision of the imperial ideal. We should not, then, be surprised to find him writing to Otto III, from Reichenau in



997, to praise his pupil for his ability to conduct affairs of state according to the principles of reason. The wording of Gerbert’s letter makes very clear that Otto’s conduct of state amounts to a theophany, in the Eriugen­ian sense, revealing the divinity of the emperor’s mind and his “divine pru­dence.” Along with the letter, Gerbert sent to Otto a philosophical tract, De rationali et ratione uti (On the Use of Reason and Rationality), which, he says, he wrote to please the emperor’s “sacred ears.” In Gerbert’s formulation, Otto’s exemplary being, the “spark of his divine mind,” inspired the archbishop to “reveal to everyone qualities discussed in very difficult phrases by Aristotle and the greatest men. One such was the wonderful ability of any mortal to have such depths of thoughts midst the strifes of war being prepared against the ‘Slays,’ since from them flowed such noteworthy penetrating ideas like streams from the purest source.”86 Gerbert leaves no doubt that the qualities which make Otto a mirabilia mundi, a ruler preeminent in history, are those of intellect and expression: Ours, ours is the Roman Empire. Italy, fertile in fruits, Lorraine and Germany, fertile in men, offer their resources, and even the strong kingdoms of the Slays are not lacking to us. Our august emperor of the Romans are thou, Caesar, who, sprung from the noblest blood of the Greeks, surpass the Greeks in empire and. govern the Romans by hereditary right, but both you surpass in genius and eloquence (my italics).87

We can now understand why the Hand of God in the Reichenau miniature rests on Otto’s forehead, the seat of the intellect, and why “the divine aureola framing the Hand of God intersects with the imperial aureola, thus allowing the emperor’s head to be placed in the spandrel which is formed by the inter­secting haloes.”88 This identification provides a new insight into the nature of the apotheosis, and one that helps to explain the structure and color symbol­ism of the painting. The emperor represents intellect, the essence of the soul “which presides over the whole [universitas] of human nature and revolves around God above all nature.”89 As the creative Godhead is One in Three, so the emperor, at the head of all human nature, contains within himself the other orders. He is es­sence (ousia), reason (logos) or power (dynamis), and also operation (energeia). Power and operation function as the adjuvants of essence: they hold the sec­ond and third places in this hierarchical conception. Thus in our miniature, the reguli, or feudatory dukes, inclined in obeisance toward the emperor, who rises above them, signify the second, middle level, that of dynamis, while the warriors and archbishops in the bottom register signify the third and lowest level, that of sense (dianoia) and operation (energeia). Each of the six adjuvant figures wears a blue tunic covered by a scarlet cloak, in the case of the four secular figures, or a scarlet chasuble in the case of the two



archbishops. Their dress thus mirrors that of the larger figure of the em­peror, likewise garbed in a long blue tunic and scarlet cloak. But the resplen­dence of the human couture only underlines the creative domination of the divinity, for this color scheme originates with God and emphasizes the point that the universitas of human nature “revolves around God above all nature”: the arm above the Hand of God appears clothed in a scarlet mantle, while the halo surrounding it is a darker blue. The Reichenau miniature does indeed represent an apotheosis of Otto, but a theosis of the emperor as divine by intellect, of the social and political order as a product of reason, a theophany in which God’s power displays itself as a multiplicity of powers invested in the sacred being of the monarch. Returning now to Rodolphus’s theosis of King Robert, we can better under­ stand its innovative nature. Unlike the Reichenau master, Rodolphus does not portray the theosis as a fait accompli but as a narrative event. We actually participate in the telling of Robert’s theosis, which Rodolphus structures ac­cording to the Eriugenian model. He does so by casting the narrative in three stages corresponding to the movement of theosis: essence, power, and opera­tion. In this account, essence equates with being; power with the capability of action consonant with being; and operation with the efficacy of the realized action. We can reformulate these concepts in terms of the questions each one answers: “Who and what is the king?” “What is he capable of doing as king?” “Is his action effective and if so, how?” Like the figure of the emperor in the Reichenau miniature, the image that dominates the whole scenario and that determines the measure of all other characters is that of the king. In his being, he incarnates the essence of the state as a political, social, and religious order. When the heretics challenge the divine creation of the world, they strike a direct blow at the king’s two bodies: the body politic and his sacerdotal body. The king’s person links the events in the different parts of his kingdom: the priest and duke of Rouen turn to Robert for help; he goes in person to Orléans. Rodolphus even describes the heresy as a physical illness consuming the body politic: “a plague raging in Robert’s kingdom among the lambs of Christ.”90 The words obviously cast Robert as the surrogate shepherd of Christ, the figure toward whom clergy and nobles alike turn for help to protect the flock of Christ, and only when Robert person­ally intervenes does the tide of heresy begin to turn. The inference that only Robert possesses the capability and authority for effective action cannot be denied. Rodolphus’s long intervention repeatedly stresses the theme of God’s con­cern for his people, manifested by the concern he shows in sending exemplary beings into the world to bring humanity back to the path of rectitude. Simi­larly, Robert figures as a compassionate ruler, saddened by the deviation of his people. Rodolphus portrays him as fearful that the country would suffer and souls be damned by the heresy; he grieves over the perverse revelations of Herbert and Lisoius.91 Because



the king incarnates intellect and reason, he can­not be subject to the temptations of his flock to heed the simulacrum of truth propounded by the heretics. And because, like God, compassion motivates him, he listens to the heretics in order to discover the errors inculcated in his people so that his adjuvant, Rodolphus, may respond with the “spirit of truth.” We find three movements to the heresy account—the warning, the trial, and the judgment—and each culminates with an example of effective action by Robert that reinforces his image as a wise king, somewhat in the image of Solomon: ut erat doctissimus ac christianissimus. Each movement, in fact, offers a view of Robert as the head and moving force of the body politic and the body ecclesiastical. In the first instance—the duke of Rouen’s appeal—we see that the king stands above his reguli, or adjuvants, just as Otto dominates the reguli that flank him in the Reichenau miniature. But the narrator casts the duke’s appeal in metaphoric language that suggests another dimension of Robert’s superior status: the duke’s reported message talks of the “lambs of Christ” that Robert must protect. Thus, this first movement ends with Rob­ert’s dual being, as king and christomimētēs, firmly established through the testimony of one of the high-ranking reguli. The duke of Rouen’s appeal does verbally for Rodolphus’s narrative what the inclined posture of veneration by the two reguli does for the Reichenau portrait, but with this difference: it in­vites Robert to act in such a way that we shall see in “historical” fact what the miniature only asserts in potentio. In the second movement, Robert convenes the trial at Orléans, and then sits at the head of the assembled clergy, nobles, and people in the cathedral at Orléans, a locus sanctus whose symbolic valence as a place where Christ’s presence has been “historically” manifested Rodolphus has already estab­lished. Rodolphus’s intervention forms a part of this scene. If the intervention cannot be said to be Robert’s voice, it certainly has been inspired by him—it is an act of one of his adjuvants—just as Gerbert says that “some hidden spark of [Otto’s] divine mind secretly struck fire in us and refined the flux of our thoughts into words.” And, like Gerbert’s treatise, Rodolphus’s intervention “revealed to everyone qualities discussed in very difficult phrases by…the greatest men.”92 We have already seen that the intervention propounds a chris­tology for which the concept of the king as christomimētēs may be taken as a logical extension. When Rodolphus says, “all the beings who obey the laws of their Creator proclaim Him by their obedience,”93 he might well be writing a caption for the Reichenau miniature. It certainly defines King Robert’s es­sence. The third movement culminates in a triumphal image of King Robert ful­ filling his historical and anagogical destiny as a divine agent. He demonstrates how God answers Solomon’s invocation: “Yahweh, God of Israel, not in heaven above nor on earth beneath is there such a God as you, true to your covenant and your kindness toward your servants when they walk wholeheartedly in your way.



…Listen to the prayer and entreaty of your servant, Yahweh my God; listen to the cry and to the prayer your servant makes to you today. Day and night let your eyes watch over this house, over this place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there.” (1 Kings 23, 28–29). But Robert fulfills this prayer by orchestrating a scene that realizes literally, in an historic event, the words of the Exsurgat Deus, Psalm 68 (Vulgate 67): Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered, let those who hate him flee before him! As smoke disperses, they disperse; as wax melts when near the fire, so the wicked perish when God approaches.

[vv. 1–2] The psalm expressed the hope of God’s people; Robert fulfilled that hope in the most dramatic—if, to us, horrible—way imaginable. As the smoke and flames rose from the pyre he commanded to be lighted, and as the heretics literally burned in this prefiguration of hellfire, their unbelief, we are told, melted like wax; they proclaimed the truth which Robert and Rodolphus steadfastly represented and then dispersed with the smoke. “So the wicked perish when God approaches.” We need not imagine that Rodolphus must have had the Exsurgat Deus, a psalm of theophany, in mind when re-creating this scene according to the prin­ ciples of directed vision. The record of the Council of Arras, held two years later, in 1025, gives a vivid picture of the opening of the council that tried the heretics of that city. The heretics had been rounded up and incarcerated on a Friday, then brought to the cathedral for trial on the following Sunday. The account says: “Then, on the third day, which was a Sunday, the bishop, with his archdeacons, equipped with crosses and the texts of the Gospels, sur­rounded by all the clerks and a multitude of the people, held a synod in the Church of the Blessed Mary; they marched [into the church] and chanted the whole of the Psalm Exsurgat Deus” (my italics).” The Exsurgat Deus thus stands in relation to Rodolphus’s narrative as the imperial victory Psalm 91 stands to the Reichenau miniature. Just as Otto personifies “God’s Protection,” so Robert shows how “he, the God of Israel, gives power and strength to his people” (Ps. 68: 35). By his literal rendering of the opening verses of the psalm, he succeeded, Rodolphus assures us, in light­ing a beacon that made “the venerable catholic faith shine more brightly everywhere in the world.”95 Rodolphus’s closing words provide yet another key to the nature of the theo­ sis of King Robert we have just witnessed. They remind us that Robert person­ ified reason, the triumph of intellect over the “madness of the insane scoun­drels” (insanientium pessimorum vesania). His insight and rational action—speaking



always from within the context of the time—restored his kingdom, and the “sheep of Christ” to the order intended by God. The message could hardly be clearer: although such an equilibrium could be described by an au­thor like Rodolphus, only a sacralized leader, a king, and more specifically King Robert, could impose that vision on the historical world because he alone conflated these two models in his one person. The literal king presented by Rodolphus who performed historical actions reveals the christomimētēs, the impersonator and actor of Christ, who restored to his people the ability to see and know God once more by showing them how God worked to protect them. Robert imitates in his person the christological image apostrophized in the sixth-century hymn “O lux beata Trinitas”: “O Unity of princely might and Trinity of blessed light.” History thus becomes revelation by translating a psalm into represented reality. The lesson, and the reality, now reads: “As smoke disperses, heresy disperses; as wax melts when near the fire, so heretics perish when Christ’s agent approaches.” Through Robert, Rodolphus demonstrates that the world is Word, and history a text subtending Scripture. Rodolphus and his contemporaries provide important testimony to a trend equating history and Scripture that would have an enormous effect on the de­velopment of a public and monumental art later in the eleventh century. Whatever technical innovations they may have made, however, they drew their inspiration for the theosis of their hero kings and reguli from a long­standing artistic, political, and literary tradition: the legend of Charlemagne. No other historical figure gripped the medieval imagination for so long as did that of Charlemagne, and none had such profound consequences. His coronation as Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day 800 inaugurated the idea of a translatio and a renovatio in the West of the Constantinian legacy. When he became pope in 999, Gerbert of Aurillac took the name Sylvester II as a reminder that Sylvester I had been Constantine’s pope. Together with the new Constantine, Otto III, Sylvester sought to unify the West in a renewed spiritual community whose model derives straight from the legend of Charlemagne, a legend which Otto and Sylvester provided with a startling new impetus in Charlemagne’s own capital, Aix-la-Chapelle, on the feast of Pentecost in the year 1000. At the end of the eleventh century, the Frankish conquest of the Holy Land reenacted a chapter of the Charlemagne legend, and the first monarch of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Baldwin, had himself crowned on 25 December 1100, probably to place himself in the mouvance of the Charlemagne myth, recalling to mind that on the day of his imperial coronation in Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome, Charlemagne had also received—so legend tells us—the keys to the Christian holy places in Jerusa­lem from the Saracen ruler, Harun al-Rashid. If the eleventh century concludes with so dramatic



a realization of the Charlemagne legend, it begins with an equally dramatic chapter in the afterlife of the great Frankish emperor, and one that makes the theoses of Otto and Robert pale by comparison. In the following chapters, we shall explore this event and its consequences for the development of Romanesque art and literature.



3 Charlemagne Redivivus: From History to Historia On the feast of Pentecost in the year 1000 the emperor Otto III discovered and entered the tomb of his predecessor, Charlemagne. Although one modern his­ torian, at least, did not hesitate to term this event “the most spectacular of that year,”1 our concern will be less to debate its historical characteristics than to demonstrate that its elaboration, indeed its very status as “event,” conforms to the perspectives and models outlined in the previous chapter, a fact that may help us to explain the significance of Charlemagne’s “resurrection” for the development of Latin and vernacular historiographic narrative. In the account of the “invention” of Charlemagne’s tomb by Otto III, just as Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, reportedly discovered the Holy Sepulchre and the True Cross,2 we find a clear example of the way in which the art and literature of the period used “historical” characters and events to demonstrate a symbolic unity in the world, a unity which was based upon the primacy of Christ as sign and signifier, and which ordinary space and time tended to dif­fuse. Or, as one recent student of Eriugena put it, “all places and ages bear the symbols of Christ which each age formulates.”3 Let us now see how Charle­magne became one of those christological symbols in the eleventh century and the consequences of this development for narrative. Although the earliest accounts do not speculate on Otto III’s motivations for seeking to discover Charlemagne’s tomb, they all agree that the location of the tomb in the Palatine Chapel at Aix-la-Chapelle was unknown. Otto alone seemed assured of the spot where the excavation should take place: he chose a spot within the church and ordered the dig to begin. The excavations were immediately successful, and we have three progressively more elaborate ac­counts of what Otto found, one of them by a putative eyewitness. The first report, ascribed to Thietmar, bishop of Merseburg (975–1018), an exact contemporary of Otto, states that the emperor was in doubt as to the exact spot where the remains of the emperor Charles reposed. He ordered the stone floor to be secretly excavated at the place where he thought them to be; at last they were discovered in a royal throne.4 Taking the golden cross which hung from Charlemagne’s neck, as well as the unrotted parts of his clothing, Otto replaced the rest with great reverence.5

Although favored by historians because of its comforting lack of elaboration, this account scarcely conveys the historic drama that came to be associated



with the event. We find the first suggestion of such an evolution in the puta­tive eyewitness account of Otto of Lomello, who reports as follows: We entered [the tomb] and went to Charles. He was not lying, as is the custom with the bodies of other deceased persons, but was sitting in a throne just like a living person. He was crowned with a gold crown; his hands were covered with gloves through which the fingernails had grown, and held a sceptre. There was, however, above him, a crypt, strongly built of marble. In order that we might reach him, we first had to have an opening broken through there. And when we came to him, we smelled a strong odor. Immediately, we worshipped him by kneeling, and then the emperor Otto covered him with white vestments, cut the nails, and repaired all that was in need of it around him. None of his members had decayed, but a small portion of the tip of his nose was missing, which the Emperor restored with gold. He removed one of the teeth from the mouth, rebuilt the crypt, and then departed.6

Count Otto’s description vividly conveys the immediacy of the experience, while refraining from elaboration. Rather appropriately, perhaps, a contempo­ rary and compatriot of Rodolphus Glaber takes the last step in the progressive development of the event. Adémar de Chabannes (ca. 988–1034) offers a ver­ sion much criticized by modern historians. Our task not being to pass upon the historicity of the event, we can appreciate Adémar’s account on its own terms. Even so, whatever one’s opinion regarding its historical value, there can be no doubt as to its distinction as the first contemporary report of the exhu­mation outside of Otto’s domains. Moreover, since Adémar was a monk at the abbey of Saint-Martial in Limoges—a main stop on the pilgrimage route south to Saint James of Compostela and right on the border of “Charlemagne and Roland country”—it testifies to the diffusion of and interest in the event over a wide area. Adémar writes: In those days, the Emperor Otto was advised in a dream to raise the body of the Emperor Charlemagne, who had been buried at Aix. But having been obliterated by time, the exact place where he lay was not known. At the end of three days’ fast [by the emperor Otto], [Charlemagne] was found in the place which the Emperor had perceived in his dream. He was found sitting in a golden throne, within an arched crypt, under the basilica of Saint Mary, crowned with a crown of gold and gems, holding a sceptre and a sword of purest gold, the body itself uncorrupted. After being raised, the body was shown to the people. A canon of that church, Adalbert, who was enormous and tall of stature, put the crown on his head as if to take its measure, but found the top of his head too small for it, the size of the crown being bigger than the circumference of his own head. He also compared his leg to that of the king, and his was found to be smaller. Im­mediately afterward, by a divine miracle, his leg was fractured, and although he lived another forty years, he remained a cripple.



Charles’s body was buried in the right transept of that basilica behind the altar of Saint John the Baptist and a magnificent golden crypt constructed over it, and it began to be known by means of many signs and miracles. There was no thought of a solemn feast day for him, aside from the common rites of the anniversary of the dead.7

Invention as Historia Adémar’s narrative suddenly confronts us with the invention-as-historia. No longer a simple anecdote raising more questions than it answers—for example, how did Otto know where to dig?—it has become a coherent unit, but not by attempting to “stick to the facts,” as it were. The people represented no longer function as mere agents of the discourse. They have—particularly the hapless Adalbert—become “persons.” As Frank Kermode recently suggested, “of an agent, there is nothing to be said except that he performs a function…[but] when the agent becomes a kind of person, all is changed.”8 Two of the things that have changed in Adémar’s version suggest why this narrative, and not the other two accounts, inspired the rather astonishing evo­ lution of the legend. In the first place, this text, like those in the first chapter, rhetorically situates the audience within its discourse. Not simply does it con­vey information to an audience, it also demonstrates that to go beyond the immediate sense of the discourse to a profounder meaning—and, unlike the previous two accounts, it asserts that there is a hidden meaning—one must interpret the story with information alluded to but not provided explicitly by the narrative. To the modern reader, Adalbert’s maiming appears as a mildly amusing an­ ecdote, although the medieval audience would certainly have been expected to see in the story an example of the miraculous power of the sacred past and its symbols over the here and now This potency, in turn, would justify the superiority, the ascendancy of the sacred past over the present. But, beyond that, the Adalbert incident would seem, on the surface, to add little to the meaning of the main event. We learned in chapter 2, however, that such apparent asides may in fact be of crucial importance, alerting the reader to a dimension of analogical symbol­ism whence derived the real signification of stories in this period. So it is here. In a manner reminiscent of Uzzah’s sudden death for touching the Ark of Yahweh (2 Samuel 6 : 6–7), the maiming of Adalbert demonstrates the potency of Charlemagne as relic, as well as the mediating role of the story in presenting both the scene and its signification, image and assertion of a meaning to be sought, in the manner of Scripture. Beyond that, the .deeper context calls up the situation in Second Samuel where David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, thereby establishing the relationship between the Sacred City, the Temple, and the monarchy; in short,



the symbolic setting of the Old Alli­ance. It became a commonplace of Carolingian political philosophy and iconography—as may be seen, for example, in the mosaic of the Ark of the Cov­enant as a symbol of the New Alliance in Theodolphus’s late eighth-century oratory at Germigny-des-prés9—that the Carolingians were successors to David and that, by translatio, the Franks had become successors to the He­brew Royal nation as the Elect of God,10 and even though the authority for it went back to Clovis and Pepin, it was really Charlemagne who symbolized the historicosacred personage who had successfully manifested this trans­latio. But if Charlemagne effected the translatio of this symbolic code to the West, it was Constantine who manifested the renovatio of the New Alliance in the Holy Land by discovering and embellishing the most sacred sites of Christian Jerusalem. The Constantinian example was consciously nourished, as we saw in chapter 2, by Otto III and his pope, Gerbert of Aurillac, whose papal name, Sylvester II, commemorated Constantine’s pope, Sylvester I.11 Not surpris­ingly, then, the accounts of Otto’s invention of Charlemagne’s tomb share a certain structural similarity to the legendary accounts of Saint Helena’s inven­tion of the Holy Sepulchre and the True Cross. We shall return to this later. For the moment, let us observe that the other remarkable feature of Adémar’s narrative, and, to a lesser extent, that of Otto of Lomello, is the strongly imagistic or graphic quality of the story—the same characteristic we found in Rodolphus Glaber’s historiae. The rhetorical imagery readily trans­ lates into a pictorial rendition of the scene. And with good reason, as we shall see, for the legend of Charlemagne, from the ninth century to the nineteenth, developed as readily in art as in literature, making it imperative to consider the two together. This is especially true in the case of the Chanson de Roland, for example, when we would appear to be dealing with a self-contained literary work. We can see better how this works in the accounts of the discovery of Charlemagne’s tomb by looking briefly at the three accounts as a whole. Invention-as-Story: The Poetics of Place Isolating the elements common to the accounts, or at least to any two of the three, we find nine principal components. They function either to give struc­ture to the ceremony or, equally important, to attach the action firmly to a given time—the feast of Pentecost—and to a given place—the basilica at Aix-­la-Chapelle—built by Charles himself. These elements are as follows: 1. TIME: The feast of Pentecost of the year 1000, during a visit Otto III paid to Aix-la-Chapelle. 2. PLACE: The basilica of Our Lady, Aix-la-Chapelle, the former capital of Charlemagne’s empire (an empire Otto III was then in the throes of



ex­tending spiritually by the conversion of Hungary).12 Tomb known to be within the precincts of the basilica. 3. DISCOVERY: Although the exact location of the tomb was unknown, Otto, the homo eruditus (“qui philosophia intentus, et lucra Christi cogi­ tans”),13 discovered it by divine guidance. 4. CAST: A restricted number of notables (four) make the visitation. 5. SPECTACLE: Charlemagne was discovered, enthroned in majesty, in a vaulted crypt. 6. ARTIFACTS: Charlemagne’s body was found to be adorned with precious objects connoting sacerdotal and political authority. 7. RITUAL: Veneration of the site and Charlemagne by visitors; sacred na­ ture of the occasion stressed. 8. TRANSLATION: Body and objects associated with it treated as relics. Remains replaced in tomb or re-sited in another, more accessible one. 9. REVELATION: Authoritative and progressively more significant narra­ tive of visitation conveyed the image and detail of the event to an audi­ ence. The foregoing should make clear the ceremonial nature of the occasion, or rather, the progressive importance accorded to it as such by the narratives. Especially in the last two versions, the visit to the tomb appears as a ritual of solemn religious import, such that Robert Folz called it a prefiguration of the canonization of Charlemagne in 1165.14 We might recall some of the solemnity surrounding the time and place of the ritual. Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Easter, traditionally marked the end of the Easter season; it was also the feast which celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit, the completion of the movement of procession and return in the “life cycle” of Christ which revealed to man the Trinity. Thus, it was the feast which confirmed the full import, the ultimate truth of the Resurrection. The Resurrection itself, as 0. B. Hardison observed, “is the moment when humanity, represented by the holy women visiting the tomb of Christ, first recognizes the full significance of the Incarnation.”15 We have thus a series of ongoing moments—Incarnation, Nativity, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascen­sion, Pentecost—each confirming the truth and heightening the significance of the preceding. Each is a narrative event, and reference to one implies the others; but each is also a temporal event standing within historic time, but also outside of it, in eternity. The concept of time and narrative sequence here illustrated must be seen as a dual one, then, in which the historical implies the anagogic and vice versa. The same is also true for Christian space, and, in fact, the place in which our drama unfolds really constitutes one sacred space within another: a tomb within a place for worshiping the tomb. More boldly still, we may view it as a sacred space sequence (church—tomb/tomb—church) in one place and time, that is,



Aix-la-Chapelle in the year 1000, which represents other sacred space sequences in other places and times, that is, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome. Let us see how this works, looking first at Charlemagne’s church, the Palatine Chapel. The main part of the basilica “is an eight-sided domed center room sur­ rounded by an ambulatory on its lower floor, by a gallery on its upper floor and surmounted by an eight-sided dome.” The church was dedicated both to Christ and to the Virgin. Below this main part, as we saw, lay Charlemagne’s crypt, called by Otto of Lomello a turgurium and then a turguriolum, or “little hut,” a fact whose importance will become apparent. In this spatial arrangement of a sacred tomb below-ground enclosed above by a basilica we have the typical arrangement of the early medieval martyr­ium, but especially of that archetypal martyrium, the Anastasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem. We will return to the prototypes of the Palatine Chapel in a moment; for the present, it is less the architecture that concerns us than the semiosis of the ensemble. The Anastasis, constructed by Constantine over the cave-tomb of Christ— although in the eleventh century Saint Helena received credit for the initia­tive— became the cherished goal of medieval pilgrims from the fourth cen­tury onward. The tomb, a cave at the outset, had been enclosed by a colon­naded monument under Constantine’s direction. This structure came to be called an edicule, or little house, and all representations of the holy sepulchre per se may be so called. Eusebius reports that the cave was adorned by the emperor with “choice columns and much ornament,” and that he spared “no art to make it beautiful.”18 Even so, as evidenced by early testimony and mod­em reconstruction, the edicule was but a small part of the original Anastasis; the magnificence of the latter was intended by Constantine to impress upon the faithful the importance of the former. In Eusebius’s words, the Anastasis should “make conspicuous and an object of veneration to all” the Holy Sep­ulchre.” The two structures, inner tomb and outer basilica, relate figuratively to one another by means of synecdoche, although, like Scripture itself, spiritual meaning rather than physical or material properties determines the order of relation. The smaller structure within, namely, the tomb, has the greater spiri­tual value and therefore controls the meaning production for the ensemble, but the larger object, the basilica, interprets the smaller—presents it to the world in a specific way that enhances and authenticates the predetermined meaning. Each implies the other in a reciprocal relationship, even though it was not that way at the beginning. Thus, although the tomb of Christ was the historical location of spiritual value to the believer, from the fourth century on it became the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that represented the tomb to the believer; symbolically, the splendid edifice of the church functioned to guarantee the authenticity of the tomb. In effect, the tomb had entered into the mouvance of the basilica, to borrow a term .



from the vocabulary of feudalism. Confirmation of the inter­dependence of basilica and tomb in signifying this holiest of Christian holy places may be readily found in eleventh-century chronicles such as Rodolphus Glaber and Adémar which describe the destruction of Constantine and Helena’s basilica by Saracens c. 1010. Although the edicule could not be de­stroyed by the Saracens, the fact that the basilica suffered—even though re-built rather quickly by divine intervention—was enough to engender great lamentation, as though the basic component of the site itself, the cave of the Holy Sepulchre, had been destroyed.20 These same sources show us that just as the tomb had entered into the mouvance of the basilica, so also the author of the basilica, Constantine, and later his mother, Saint Helena, had acquired a spiritual as well as a political suzerainty over those sites, thanks to his plan to adorn the holy places with “the splendor of buildings.” That suzerainty ultimately transferred to Charle­magne, or at least a good part of it. Between the year 800 and the year 1000, and particularly in the half-century preceding Otto III’s discovery of Charlemagne’s tomb, a considerable docu­ mentation had developed stressing the relationship between the Holy Land and Charlemagne. After 1000, the literature became even more insistent, ul­timately transforming Charlemagne into the archetypal crusader king, the scourge of the infidel, protector of the Holy Land, and, in the ultimate ver­sions, its conqueror. Prior to the mid-eleventh century, however, the picture of Charlemagne’s relationship to the Holy Land appeared more restrained and more nearly parallel to the role traditionally accorded to Constantine. In other words, Charlemagne was portrayed as an endower of monuments in Palestine, such as the hostel and church for Latin-speaking pilgrims in Jerusa­lem, Saint-Mary-the-Latin. The legends of this earlier period depict Charle­magne as having enjoyed good relations with the Saracen caliphate, whose incumbents invest Charlemagne with custody of the Christian holy places. More interestingly, the documents also show the emperors in Constantinople as quite willing to concede to Charlemagne their nominal rights as custodians of the Holy Land. Besides the better-known early accounts in which Harun al-Rashid, the Saracen caliph, purportedly sent the keys of the Holy Sepulchre to Charlemagne on Christmas Day in 800—the same day as his imperial coronation—along with a promise to place himself and his land under Charlemagne’s protection,21 several new legendary texts provide further evidence that the Holy Land was entering the mouvance of the Carolingian empire. These texts show that the meaning of the concept “Carolingian Empire” had undergone a profound evo­lution to the point where it stood as a metonymy of the Christian world, with Jerusalem and particularly the Holy Sepulchre, as its metaphoric center. When we recall that Jerusalem and especially the Holy Sepulchre passed, during the Middle Ages, as the physical as well as spiritual center of the earth, we can



better understand the desire to perfect the spiritual connotation of Charlemagne’s empire by ascribing to it this polysemous site. The Sepulchre of the Lord…has been constructed in the middle of a temple, and the temple is in the city centre towards the north, not far from David’s Gate. Behind the Resurrection is a garden in which holy Mary spoke with the Lord. Behind the church and outside it is the Centre of the World, the place of which David said, “Thou hast worked salvation in the midst of the earth.” Also another prophet says, “This is Jerusalem: I have set her in the midst of the nations.”22

The legendary texts themselves corroborate this incessant association of Charlemagne with relics of Christ’s Passion. The Translatio Sanguinis, com­posed at Reichenau around the year 950,23 tells the story of the abbey’s most precious relic, a cross containing several drops of the blood of Christ, suppos­edly obtained and donated by Charlemagne. The Translatio tells how this cross was given to the Frankish emperor, along with many other relics of the Passion, by the prefect of Jerusalem, who had traveled to Corsica to meet the emperor. From Ravenna, Charlemagne went barefoot, we are told, all the way to Sicily, with a large number of pilgrims, to take possession of the relics. He then brought them back to Aix, where he distributed them to various churches, keeping some for his own Palatine Chapel. As Folz pointed out, the Translatio tells us two important things: It attests to the persistence of the memory of the friendly relations that Charle­magne maintained with Near Eastern rulers. It also demonstrates that some churches kept alive the memory of the arrival in the West, around the year 800, of particularly illustrious relics, specifically those of Christ’s Passion, which they owned thanks to Charlemagne’s generosity.24

Less than a quarter of a century after the Translatio, we find a narrative that actually predicates a voyage to the Holy Land by Charlemagne. Around the year 968, the monk Benedict of Mount Soracte wrote a chronicle in which Charlemagne purportedly mounted an expedition to Jerusalem.25 According to Benedict, Harun al-Rashid quickly concluded a treaty of peace and friendship with Charlemagne. In a dramatic exchange, the Saracen confers upon Charle­magne the dignity of protector of the Holy Sepulchre at the moment when the emperor visits Christ’s tomb to pay homage. Having concluded an alliance, Harun and Charlemagne journey to another center of Christian heritage, Al­exandria, where they preside over a joyous demonstration of peaceful coexis­tence between the Saracen and Christian inhabitants. Departing Alexandria, Charles then proceeds to Constantinople, where the reigning powers acknowledge him as an ally and, most importantly, do not challenge his suzerainty over the Holy Land. Finally, Charlemagne returns to Rome, the object of a triumphal welcome by the pope and the people, who proclaim him Augustus.



Benedict’s chronicle represents a significant step in the legendary substitu­ tion of Charlemagne for Constantine as the religio-secular suzerain of the Holy Land. For the first time, Charles actually “takes possession” of the Holy Sepulchre in person : physical presence at the sacred site played an important part in the transference of symbolic powers. By the late tenth century, then, we have evidence for a legendary homologization of Charlemagne to the Holy Sepulchre where the figure of Constantine serves at once as the mediating principle and source of the authority now claimed for Charles. The homology runs Holy Sepulchre : Constantine : : Holy Sepulchre : Charlemagne in which the common element establishing the authority of both Constantine and Charlemagne is the all-important title “emperor,” particularly Christian emperor, extended to include the Holy Land. The term emperor figures as a clear sign of religious authority—protector of the sacred places of Christen­dom—as well as temporal dominance. Thus the choice of Christmas Day for Charlemagne’s imperial coronation and the early legend that Harun al-Rashid sent the keys to the Holy Sepulchre to Charlemagne on the same day. By the later tenth century, then, to mention the Holy Sepulchre no longer automatically called up the sole image of Constantine, but also, and perhaps even rather, Charlemagne. Nevertheless, the authority of Charlemagne de­rived from his implicational relationship with Constantine. Constantine and Charlemagne stood at this time in synecdochic relationship. 26 Thanks to the special nature of Christian time, Charlemagne could be seen less as a succes­sor to Constantine than as a renovatio of him, a re-presentation of what he was perceived to have stood for. It makes no difference that it was not so at the beginning; once the new view imposed itself, it became canonical. Often char­acterized as naive, this anachronistic perspective whereby the authority of the past might be “revised” to include facts and perceptions from the present con­stitutes a rich mythopoeic resource that explains why periods of this sort tend to produce so vital an epic and historiographic heritage. Before moving on, we might remark the symmetry of Benedict of Mount Soracte’s narrative. Charlemagne, in his work, went first to Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre, then to all of the other principal cities over which Constan­tine once exercised control: Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome. In essence, Benedict asserts the same claims for Charlemagne regarding empire that ex­isted for Constantine, the significant difference being that no historical basis existed for the claims to an Eastern empire that now spring up for Charle­magne. True, Charlemagne and his advisors consciously emulated the Con­stantinian model from 800 onward, but that kind of behavioral patterning was quite a different matter from Benedict’s rewriting of history. We can only con­clude from his boldness the strength of the symbolic



authority accruing to Charlemagne in the second half of the tenth century, on the one hand, and, on the other, the authoritative role of narrative-as-history. We may also begin to understand some of the assumptions about the Frankish emperor that would have been part of the consciousness of the actors in the drama of the exhu­ mation when they descended to Charlemagne’s tomb in that millennial year of 1000, and most certainly of the historians, like Adémar, who recorded the event. Renovatio often occurs in company with translatio, and if there were a ten­ dency to view Charlemagne progressively as a renovatio of Constantine, so, too, did the translatio of potency from the Holy Sepulchre begin to assume greater signification in the late tenth century and early eleventh. Here again the authority of Charlemagne assumed legendary proportions, and, yet again, the legend might be seen in one sense as an outgrowth of historical fact, but historical fact with mythopoeic elements strongly encoded. The setting in which Otto III’s invention of his forebear’s tomb occurred has been programed, as it were, by Charlemagne for just such an event. In a still valuable study, “The Carolingian Revival of Early Christian Architecture,” Richard Krautheimer argued persuasively that symbolic value and liturgical function were stressed more than the technical aspects of ecclesiastical archi­ tecture in the Middle Ages. 27 “The ‘content’ of architecture,” he says, “seems to have been among the more important problems of medieval architectural theory: perhaps it was indeed its most important problem.”28 In comparing different edifices which medieval sources saw as having a strong relationship, the modern student must look less for exact physical resemblances than for symbolic and functional points de repère. On this basis, Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel at Aix may be seen as an ed­ ifice whose meaning, like that of Charlemagne himself, by this time, derived from a ternary relationship of sign and referent. It combined within itself two models whose prototypes might be found in Jerusalem and Rome. The descrip­tion of the basilica given earlier places it in a group of “round” churches as­sociated at once with the Anastasis and also with martyria dedicated to the Virgin. Strictly speaking, the Palatine Chapel does not fall into the group of conscious “copies” of the Anastasis that were built in Europe beginning in the first half of the eleventh century, soon after the events we are discussing. 29 Based loosely on its use of the two-story rotunda with galleries and its dedi­cation to Christ, the Palatine Chapel may be said to conform to the typology of the copies of the Holy Sepulchre, especially since Krautheimer points out that even the “approved” copies resembled their prototype in little more than the use of the rotunda and gallery motif and their dedication to Christ.30 Given Charlemagne’s close association with the Holy Sepulchre, it hardly seems radical to assume that, as the archetype of the Anastasis became more preva­ lent in Europe, the Rotunda at Aix, itself a martyrium dedicated to Christ, would assume a typological association with the Holy Sepulchre.



Another prototype for the Palatine Chapel lies in the Valley of Josaphat, outside of Jerusalem. This is the church over the Tomb of the Virgin, described by Arculfus, a Frankish pilgrim of the seventh century, as follows: “The church of Saint Mary is double-storied; its lower part is found with a wonder­ful stone ceiling; in the eastern part is an altar and to its right the empty tomb of the Virgin hewn in rock. The upper story is likewise round; it contains four altars…”31 This church seems to have exercised almost as important an in­fluence on ecclesiastical architecture in the East and West as the Anastasis.32 Its immediate derivative in the Eastern Empire was the Hagia Soros in Con­stantinople; both the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin and Hagia Soros have been proposed as models for the Palatine Chapel. The latter, in its turn, was “greatly admired by contemporaries and by later generations; and the struc­ture was reflected in derivatives all over Charles’ Empire from the ninth through the eleventh centuries.”33 Once again, we find the filiation Jerusalem, Constantinople, Aix: Christ/ Mary Constantine, Charlemagne. But what about Rome? In. Rome the Pan­theon had been rededicated as Sancta Maria Rotunda on 10 May 609 or 610, by Pope Boniface IV.34 Krautheimer cogently asks why the Pantheon, a domed rotunda with niches, should have suddenly been considered appropriate as a martyrium dedicated to the Virgin in the early seventh century. The answer seems to lie yet again in the axis of signification, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome. In the mid-sixth century, a church was either built or rebuilt over the Tomb of the Virgin in the Valley of Josaphat by the emperor Maurikos (582–602). “In commemoration of this structure,” Krautheimer argues, “the chapel of Hagia Soros may have been set up in Constantinople.”35 At any rate, from the early seventh century the chapel of Hagia Soros is cited as one of the “great sanctu­aries of the capital, for at that time it sheltered the kerchief of the Virgin, or else her belt, her dress or her shroud.”36 In dedicating the Pantheon to the Virgin, Pope Boniface IV simply extended this process of symbolic transference of shrines from the Holy Land to signifi­cant spiritual centers—which also happened to be political centers—in the West. The Pantheon resembled the archetypal Tomb of the Virgin; Constanti­nople had such a church; therefore, Rome, too, should rededicate a major ar­chitectural monument to the Virgin. In so doing, Pope Boniface additionally demonstrated the power of the New Alliance to redefine the monuments and sacred precincts of the old order. Within a short time of Boniface’s rededica­tion, Sancta Maria Rotunda had become “the fountainhead for a whole group of early medieval round churches with niches all dedicated to the Virgin,”37 and legend held that it had been that way. from the beginning.38 Charlemagne inscribed this monumental symbolism into his complex of public buildings in Aix. The model for his palace—which was attached to the chapel by a kind of long arcade—was the Lateran palace in Rome. Tradition, as evidenced



by the Donation of Constantine, claimed the Lateran to have been Constantine’s own palace. Given the obvious connection between Char­lemagne’s palace and the Lateran, we should have no difficulty postulating a similar connection between the chapel connected to the palace and Sancta Maria Rotunda. After all, it was a commonplace of Carolingian documents that Aix should be seen as the Nova Roma, a claim due in no small part to the “splendor of buildings” by which Charlemagne distinguished it, a Constantinian lesson that had not been lost on his Frankish emulator. We can argue, then, that the Palatine Chapel is trinitarian: representing the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin, Hagia Soros, and Sancta Maria Rotunda—Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome—all within the mouvance of Aix-la-Chapelle. The symmetry between Constantine and himself, the old empire and the new, seems to have been the height of Charlemagne’s own ambition, and no mean one at that. By the year 1000, however, Charlemagne’s successors enter­tained even greater ambitions for him. In art, literature, and history, we find a tendency to refer to Charlemagne in terms of an expressive system usually reserved for Christ. By the thirteenth century, that transference had become a commonplace, as the following gloss, taken from the Chronique Sainton­geaise, makes clear: Karles si est lumeire de char, car it sormonta toz les rois de terre charnaus apres Jesu Crist, per la lumeire de totes vertuz e de science e de proece.39 [Truly, Charles is the light of the flesh, for he surpasses all fleshly kings of the earth after Jesus Christ by the light of all his virtues, and his knowledge and prowess.]

This view already informs the image of Charlemagne in the Oxford Roland. Charlemagne has attained patriarchal age: “dous cenz anz ad passet” (v. 524); biblical miracles like the staying of the sun in its path are reproduced by God at his request; and he maintains mediated communication with God via the archangel Gabriel, from whom we learn that Charlemagne’s titles possess celestial validity: “Reis magnes, que fais tu?” (v. 3611). The last laisse of the Roland makes even more explicit Charlemagne’s role as divine agent. Now that we have a clearer picture of the symbolic valorization of Charle­ magne around the year 1000, let us consider the structure of Otto III’s descent to the tomb of his illustrious predecessor as conveyed by our three accounts. Invention-as-Story: The Poetics of Person First of all, let there be no doubt as to the significance of Pentecost in the representation of the event. Pentecost was to Easter what the Nativity was to the Annunciation. In the ongoing narrative of Christ, it was the moment of extreme creative potency when the Trinity became a fully realized sign. As the feast of



the coming of the Holy Spirit, the revelation of the Third Person of the Trinity, Pentecost signaled the commutativity of the Verbum, the Sec­ond Person, with human speech. It was Pentecost which gave man “the gift of speech,” that is, the ability of humans to represent in their speech the “speech of the Lord” (Acts 2 : 17). The ninth-century Latin hymn sometimes ascribed to Hrabanus Maurus, “Veni, creator spiritus,” expresses very cogently the concept of Pentecost as the origin of man’s ability to become an imitatio Christi: Veni, creator spiritus Mentes tuorum visita, Imple superna gratia Quae tu creasti pectora ........................................ Tu septiformis munere, Dextrae Dei tu digitus, Tu rite promisso Patris Sermone ditans guttura.

[1–4, 9–12]

[Come, Creator Spirit, visit the souls of thy people, and fill with grace from them on high the hearts which thou hast created….Thou art seven-fold in the gifts, the finger of the Father’s right hand, and duly by the Father’s promise thou endowest human lips with speech.]40

Pentecost provided a resounding answer to the question posed by Easter as interpreted by the three Marys who went to the Holy Sepulchre on Easter morning to anoint the body of Christ, only to find the tomb empty. That mo­ment, with its explicit question—so often interpreted visually in miniature ivory carvings and paintings in the tenth and eleventh centuries—was given dramatic form by the most famous dialogue in medieval literature, the Quem Queritis. In its simplest form, the Quem Queritis dialogue consisted of a question, an answer, and a reply: Quem queritis in sepulchro, 0 christicole? Ihesum Nazarenum crucifixum, 0 celicole. Non est hic, surrexit sicut ipse dixit; ite nunciate quia surrexit. [Whom do you seek in the tomb, 0 followers of Christ? Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, 0 Heaven Dwellers. He is not here, he has arisen as he said; go announce that he has arisen.]41

Hardison reminds us that the Quem Queritis “became quite literally the bridge whereby medieval culture made the transition from ritual to represen­tational drama…. It is not a tentative and blurred effort to express a felt ex­ perience in representational form, but a decisive realization of experience in terms of the history that the Middle Ages regarded as its basis.”42



By the beginning of the eleventh century, the Quem Queritis had attained widespread popularity and had already begun to undergo elaborations which would eventually culminate in a full-blown play of the Passiontide. A master­piece of functional symbolic representation in which persons, site, gesture, music, and words combine to make the revelation of the Resurrection a stun­ning recognition scene, the Quem Queritis could not help but provide a cere­monial archetype and intertext for a tomb visitation, especially one so clearly predicated upon christological symbolism as this. The setting alone, as we saw, represented a rotunda martyrium of the type associated with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Otto of Lomello provided two details in his account which make the parallel between the representation of the tomb visitation in the Quem Queritis and the invention of Charle­magne’s tomb the more striking. Following its biblical source, the Quem Queritis represents five people pres­ent in the tomb: the three Marys and two angels. We find the same number in Otto of Lomello’s version, where four notables proceed to find a Charlemagne erect in his throne “ceu vivus residebat.” Note that Charlemagne appears very much as a presence in the tomb visitations. His majesty dominates the scene and highlights the procession toward the throne. Note also that the reverences made to the enthroned emperor do not differ from those that would have been accorded him by courtiers at a royal audience. Indeed, he appears with all the imperial regalia, symbols of authority— both secular and religious—that he would have displayed on state occasions. His posture, attitude, and appurtenances receive dramatic treatment from the chroniclers, and, as with the three Marys in the Quem Queritis, the attitude of the visitors toward the state which they find in the tomb reminds us that we are witnesses to a revelation, a revelation of a truth which could take place only in the tomb. Let us note, too, that just as the Marys found the plenitude or fulfillment of the Word in the emptiness of the tomb—”surrexit sicut ipse dixit; ite nunciate quia surrexit”—and just as the Quem Queritis gave dramatic representation to the fullness of that absence, so the visitors to Charlemagne’s tomb found, in a way that will become even more apparent later, the accomplishment of the Word: manifest evidence that Christ’s triumph over death, as the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi took pains to remind its audience, was not sui generis, not for himself alone, but to be shared by all men.43 The second detail of Otto’s account which deserves comment concerns the estate of the four tomb visitors. These are not witnesses chosen at random, but highly placed representatives of the ruling estates: the monarchy, the church, and the nobility. And, like the Marys, they are at once in the story and the instruments of its communication. Indeed, the second Otto here, Otto of Lomello, responds quite literally to the injunction of the angel in the Quem Queritis: “ite nunciate quia surrexit.”



Just as in the Quem Queritis, then, a small number of authoritative wit­ nesses experience the event and then tell about it. And just as in that sequence, the existence of the concrete artifacts—the tomb, the relics taken, etc.—at­tests the authenticity of the experience. Even more important, in both cases it is the representation of the event in verbal accounts that anchors and me­diates all of the other elements. Without these accounts, there would be noth­ing else. The articulation of the event in narrative form makes it available to the culture at large by transforming it into mythos, socially acceptable histor­ical “fact.” As such it is then free to inspire subsequent developments of an artistic, literary, and political nature. We shall have occasion to study some of these shortly. The narrative structure depends upon the same process of metaphor and metonymy that we witnessed in the Holy Land, except that now the transfer­ence from sacred site to sacred person and vice versa occurs in the Western terminus of the Jerusalem-Rome-Constantinople-Aachen axis. And once again, even though the discovery of Charlemagne’s tomb occurred almost two hundred years after his interment, we find a retrospective reconstruction of the mythos which assumes that the situation represented as existing in the tomb in the year 1000 must have been that way from the beginning. This retrospective reconstruction may best be seen by comparing the ac­counts of Charlemagne’s interment given by Einhard in his ninth-century Vita Karoli with the report that Adémar de Chabannes includes in his eleventh-century chronicle. While scholars have not failed to note the obvious differ­ences between the accounts, they have largely ascribed them to the imagina­tive fantasizing of Adémar. In fact, we must be aware that these accounts represent not simply two versions of the same event—the one reliable, the other not—but two radically different conceptions of the ceremony depicted and of the nature of narrative. Einhard’s version tells us that Charlemagne’s body was washed and cared for in the usual manner, and was then carried to the church and interred amid the greatest lamentations of all the people.… He was buried there the same day that he died, and a gilded arch was erected above his tomb with his image and an inscription. The words of the inscription were as fol­lows: “Under this tomb is interred the body of Charles, the Great and Orthodox Emperor, who gloriously extended the kingdom of the Franks and reigned prosper­ously for forty-seven years. He died at the age of seventy, in the year of our Lord 814, the seventh Indiction, on the 28th day of January.”44

This description accords with the conception of Charlemagne as a contin­uator of Constantine, a primarily secular ruler,- pious, but whose principal con­cerns lay with the territorial imperatives of his kingdom; there is no sugges­tion that imperial and spiritual geography have as yet acquired the synonymy accorded them in later versions of the Charlemagne mythos. The person bur­ied in this description may be



exceptional, but nothing suggests extraordinary spiritual, let alone supernatural, powers. Now consider Adémar’s report: Charles was interred at Aix in the basilica of Our Lady which he had built. His body, having been anointed with spices, was placed sitting in a golden throne in a vaulted crypt. The body was girt with a golden sword and was holding a golden book of the gospels [evangelium] in its hands and [resting] on the knee. The shoul­ders were leaning back against the throne and the head was held boldly erect, linked by a golden chain to the diadem. In the diadem was fixed a piece of the True Cross. They filled the crypt with aromatic spices, balsam, musk, and treasures. The body was dressed in imperial robes and a handkerchief [sudarium] placed on the face under the diadem. The gold scepter and the golden shield which. Pope Leo had blessed were placed before him and his sepulchre was sealed. [One manuscript adds:] The hair shirt which he secretly always wore was placed next to his flesh, and over the imperial robes was placed the gold pilgrim wallet which he used to wear to Rome.45

As we can readily recognize from what we learned in the last chapter, the intentionality of theosis informs Adémar’s description. Indeed, the whole rhe­torical stance of this passage contravenes the traditionally elegiac function of the tumulus or tombeau, that is, the memorial description of an illustrious deceased. On the other hand, Einhard’s account, in keeping with this conven­tion, features a retrospective epitaph, telling who Charlemagne was, how and why he might be revered as great, but above all, reminding the viewer that he was no more and would not be again until the final days. The tomb itself conveyed the same message. In Adémar’s case, however, a confident prolepsis dominates the description. We find no epitaph, almost no hint of the anteriority of accomplishment, aside from the first sentence, where Adémar gives the years of Charlemagne’s reign and tells us that Charles had built the church in which he was interred. Even that fact possesses a certain futurity, since, by the eleventh century, it was the presence of Charlemagne’s tomb that rendered the church noteworthy, just as the presence of Christ’s tomb distinguished the Anastasis. As it happens, we possess a sketch of the Palatine Chapel and the tomb of Charlemagne in Adémar’s ownhand (fig. 11). The autographed sketch accompanies the description of the interment in an early eleventh-century manu­script preserved in the Vatican library (MS Latin 263, fol. 235r). It provides a striking confirmation of the intentionality of the burial account discussed above. Note how Adémar sketched the edicule containing the tomb—identified by the inscription, “Here lies the emperor Charles.” Realistically speaking, it stands out in total disproportion to the edifice surrounding it. Figuratively speaking,however, the edicule demonstrates very well the symbolic propor­ tion existing between tomb and church in the perception of the period—as seen



Figure 11. The Palatine Chapel of Aix-la-Chapelle, showing the edicule containing the tomb of Charlemagne. Inscription reads, “Here lies the em­peror Charles.” Sketch by Adémar de Chabannes (c. 1020-34). (Vatican Li­brary, MS Lat. 263, fol. 235r)

in the relationship of edicule and Anastasis in Jerusalem. Exactly as with the ivory carvings of the Anastasis from this period, the outsize tomb identi­fies the church, rather than vice versa. More significantly still, Adémar’s ac­count and sketch show that Charlemagne’s tomb causes the Palatine Chapel to signify in precisely the manner that Christ’s tomb provided meaning for the Anastasis.46 The church, in fact, has become, in Adémar’s sketch, the setting for the tombas-reliquary. This squares with his description, which might well be said to emphasize much less the disposition of the body than the placing of a relic within a reliquary. Certainly the preparations described by Adémar—but not by Einhard— do not envisage the disappearance from view of a body, as Einhard’s version suggests, but rather the opposite. So much so, in fact, that when Adémar states that the sepulchre was sealed, we see this not as the closure of the narrative but rather as a kind of punctuation, a transition from the account of the interment to that of the invention. Consider also the dialectical relationship between sketch and narrative. The latter purports to give a retrospective account of an event that took place more than



two hundred years prior to Adémar’s writing. It closes with the sealing of the sepulchre. The sketch, on the other hand, represents the edicule/tomb in the present, as it could have been seen in Adémar’s own time. Furthermore, it projects a symbolic valence on the scene that we know to have been that of the early eleventh century rather than of the early ninth. The sketch, then, illustrates the result of the action described in the narra­tive. Consequently, when we compare the sketch and the narrative, we under­stand why the latter has a proleptic quality in sharp contrast to the retrospec­tive tenor of Einhard’s account. In other words, Adémar’s sketch serves both literally and figuratively as an icon of the intentionality of the account; it is a mise-en-abyme of the description, revealing that its purpose was to re-present the mise-au-tombeau of Charlemagne as a necessary corollary to the inven­tion of the tomb. We know that the invention must follow because not only did Adémar write the interment as a prelude to the invention, he even, in a sense, wrote the invention into the interment. He did so by incorporating into the account a graphic detail that might also be said to serve as an icon of the story by which the significance of the inven­tionto-come would be interpreted. Adémar’s narrative of the interment, re­member, reported that a piece of the True Cross had been fixed in the diadem placed on the enthroned emperor’s head. By prominently featuring this graphic detail, Adémar inscribed within his narrative the intertextual stories, both bib­lical and apocryphal, by which Otto’s invention of Charlemagne’s tomb at­tained its full christological signification. All this may be quickly verified by noting how each of the two accounts of the interment deals with concrete artifacts. Again, we find only the retrospec­tive and funerary in Einhard—a gilded arch and an image—while Adémar pro­vides a movable feast, a positive treasury of items, each one of which might be detached from the tomb-setting to serve as a relic or a symbolic instrument of religio-political power. The stone throne of the Palatine Chapel in which Otto I was consecrated in 936, and in which other German kings subsequently received their consecra­tion, became known as the Throne of Charlemagne.47 The sceptre, sword, and crown, after having been translated to Saint Denis, where they were preserved as principal relics of the royal abbey, became essential features of the ceremo­nial regalia used by French kings for their sacre at Rheims.48 As a matter of fact, the sceptre was last used by Napoleon I at his imperial coronation.49 We should not be surprised at the strong religio-political valence attained by these items when we consider them in terms of Adémar’s description. One of the most striking aspects of this, as it was of the account of the invention, concerns the strong visual image of Charlemagne sitting in enthroned majesty. With Adémar, we undoubtedly begin a long and fruitful development in the iconography of



Charlemagne, especially as concerns the parallels with Christ. From this period on, the Charlemagne mythos developed two branches, verbal and visual, with the two often intermingled. Adémar’s description constitutes, in essence, a verbal portrait that is also self-authenticating, that is, it calls attention to the very objects in the composition which may later be used to establish the “authority” of the portrait. This is slightly different from a graphic representation where all the same objects may be present but cannot “explain themselves” without a legend. In the case of Adémar’s portrait, we have an explicit identification not only of the content of the immediate pic­ture, but also a well-defined framework for the two portraits of Charlemagne interred and Charlemagne redivivus. The Poetics of Image: Charlemagne-in-Majesty This context, in turn, not only draws upon the historical association of the Charlemagne legend in word, image, and architecture with christological sym­bolism as we traced it in the early part of the chapter, but also upon the asso­ciations of the immediate context portrayed: the scenario engineered by Otto III. Otto III sought to make Charlemagne the fountainhead of the “Universal Roman Empire” as Christ was the fountainhead of the Universal Roman Church. In effect, the mythos of Charlemagne was thereby placed squarely and without the mediation of the Constantinian reference into the mouvance of the Christ mythos with all the reciprocal implication connoted by that feudal term. We saw that trend developing in the chronicles; Adémar’s description marked the beginning of a corresponding iconographical tradition of a fron­tally portrayed “Charlemagne-in-Majesty” bearing a striking resemblance to the iconography of the “Christ-in-Majesty” a Romanesque theme par excel­lence particularly favored in the eleventh century. Without attempting to trace the development of the Christ-in-Majesty, let us simply examine quickly some significant examples. The first represents, appropriately, work done by the Palace School at Aix-la-Chapelle and may be found in an evangelium attributed to Godescalc, the pupil of Hrabanus Mau­rus, and dating from the last part of the eighth century (fig. 12). Contemporaneous with Charlemagne’s own period, it portrays Christ fron­ tally, with a decorated Gospel in his left hand; his right makes the gesture of benediction. Seated on an ornate cushion, placed on a handsomely carved throne on a raised dais, Christ’s complex being as created and creator, as Word, Book, and Flesh—and the authority vested in him because of this complex­ity—stands out dramatically. A ninth-century illuminated Christ-in-Majesty from the Lothair Gospels shows Christ enclosed in a mandorla, his body spanning the distance betweenheaven and earth—the convention seen in the last chapter (fig. 13). The tetra­morphic representations of the Evangelists surround the mandorla,



Figure 12. Christ-in-Majesty. Godescalc’s evangelary. Aix-la-Chapelle, Palace School (781-83). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Lat. nouv. Acq. 1203, fol. 34)

while within it, Christ holds two symbols of the Word: the host in his right hand and the book in his left. Note that the Gospel here appears not clutched to his breast as in Godescalc’s illustration, but held in Christ’s hand and on his knee, precisely in the manner Adémar ascribes to Charlemagne. A very interesting combination of these two types of Maiestas Domini may be seen in one of the earliest sculptural representations of this theme; it is ascribed to the workshop of Bernardus Gelduinus, who worked at Saint-Sernin of Toulouse in the late eleventh century (fig. 14).50 This beautiful sculpture, now found at the head of the ambulatory, behind the main altar, combines the throne, cushion, and benediction of the Godescalc representation with the mandorla, tetramorphic representations of the Evangelists, and position of the Book of the Lothair Gospels. Emphasizing this posture, as in the Lothair Gospels, the sculptor has accorded greater prominence to the left knee and to the drapery over the left leg. The same emphasis may be seen in the gathering of the drapery over the left side of the torso and left arm, immediately beside and over the left hand.



By its restrained size and execution, the Saint-Sernin Christ conveys its re­ lationship to the miniature ivory carvings and goldsmith work that inspired it. On a larger scale, however, we find the same type of Maiestas Domini in different places throughout France in the early twelfth century. In passing, we might mention the Christ of the tympanum of Cervon (Nièvre), which retains the iconographical details of the Saint-Sernin Christ, although the artistic exe­ cution is more reminiscent of Giselbertus’s elongated forms at Autun. Two obviously related examples may be found in the Saône-et-Loire at Anzy-le‑Duc and Perrecy-les-Forges. The interest in these examples lies in the dispro­portionately large books held between the hand and the knee of the enthroned Christ. For our purposes, the most significant development in the iconography of the sculptural representations of the Christ-in-Majesty, after SaintSernin, may be found, appropriately enough, at Moissac, artistically related

Figure 13. Christ-in-Majesty. St. Martin of Tours, or Marmoutier, Gospel Book of Lo­thair (c. 849–51). (Paris, Bibliotheque Na­tionale, MS Lat. 266, fol. 2v)



to Saint-­Sernin. We have already had occasion, in the last chapter, to look at the Christ that dominates the tympanum at Moissac (figs. 1 and 2). This figure resembles to a greater extent a venerable secular ruler than do the ethereal Christs of the Godescalc Psalter, the Lothair Gospels, and the ambulatory relief at Saint-Sernin. The full beard imparts a patriarchal air to the figure not found in the clean-shaven earlier images or even in the more lightly bearded Christ of the Lothair Gospels. More significant still, the Christ of Moissac not only has the requisite nimbus with cross behind his head, but he also wears a prominent crown. This Christ, in fact, is the Pantokrator, Christ-king of the universe. No wonder local peasants took the statue to rep­resent an earthly king, Clovis, until recently.51

Figure 14. Christ enthroned with symbols of the Evangelists. Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France.



The Christ of Moissac has only one iconographical counterpart among elev­ enth- and twelfth-century representations of secular rulers that I have been able to find, and that counterpart is Charlemagne. Before we look at these examples of “Maiestas Karoli Magni,” however, one obvious question must be answered. In the last chapter, we saw several examples of secular rulers en­throned, including one, the Reichenau apotheosis, which appeared to illustrate very well the majestas theme. While it might appear as though the Charle­ magne portraits simply continue this tradition, at least two things differen­ tiate the Carolingian and Ottonian illustrations of enthroned rulers from the Charlemagne-in-Majesty representations we shall now examine. In the first place, the portraits of the enthroned rulers illustrate the theosis of these princes. Consequently, the illustrations show rulers who were alive when the paintings were executed. Secondly, the qualities stressed in the por­trayal of the theosized monarch are those associated with the Old Testament models of kingship, David and Solomon, which the portraits also illustrate. It was a commonplace of Charlemagne’s court that the Frankish monarchy should be viewed as a renovatio of the Hebrew monarchy founded by Saul, David, and Solomon under the aegis of the New Alliance.52 We can see this double reference to the Old Testament monarchical model and to Charlemagne in the illustration of Charles the Bald as Solomon in the socalled Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura, painted around 869 at Saint Denis (fig. 15). The portrait complements an illustration of Solomon (not shown) sitting in judgment in his temple. The features of Solomon and those of Charles the Bald, the details of the crowns, and so on, bear a very close resem­blance to each other. However, Charles the Bald holds a symbol of power im­possible to ascribe to a king under the Old Alliance. This symbol, the orb, resembles on the one hand an enlarged host, like that held by Christ in the Lothair Gospels, but inscribed on it we see a threefold symbol of Charlemagne. We recognize first the monogram or emblem of Charlemagne, which makes the sign of the cross with the letters “Karolus,” next, the name itself, and finally the state or title. Charles the Bald, then, must first emulate the models of Solomon and Charlemagne, and then Christ. One last document provides convincing testimony to the intentionality of the Carolingian and Ottonian tradition of the enthroned ruler; it also helps to explain the transition from theosis to theophany, as it were, when we reach the Charlemagne-in-Majesty portraits. Aulae Sidereae, a little-known but highly significant poem to Charles the Bald by John Scottus Eriugena sheds much-needed light on this problem. The poem was written for the dedication of a palace church that Charles the Bald had constructed for his use at Com­piegne; not only did he seek to imitate his forebear Charlemagne in building the church, he had it built as a rather faithful copy of the chapel at Aix.53 Besides serving to document the intentional association of the Carolingian ruler with his church as an extension of or



Figure 15. Charles the Bald on his throne. School of Rheims (c. 870–75). (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale).

setting for his throne, the poem also provides a good commentary on the symbolic value ascribed to Charle­magne’s church at this time. Eriugena’s poem equates the structural details of the church with the sym­bolic structure of the world at the moment of Christ’s birth, thereby establish­ing the fact that “reading” the symbolic structure of the church permits one to “read” Christ in the universe; put another way, Christ, the church, and the world constitute a set of equivalences related in a metaphoric/metonymic pat­tern. In a brilliantly modulated metaphoric run, Eriugena plays upon the church as the Light itself, that is, Christ, and the setting for the Light which dissipated the darkness of the Fall. In the process, the church comes to symbolize the places or spaces where the Light resided in its oral trajectory from spoken Word of God to the Spirit of human speech at Pentecost. In this way, the church—like Charlemagne’s dedicated to the Virgin as well as to the Savior—is also womb, tomb, and throne. Throne thus becomes an equivalence of theo­sis, a setting for the Light of



the Word and a renovatio of the throne of the Old Testament intentionally revalorized by the Word-God enthroned in his tem­ple, and here equated to a principle of life itself. Uerbum nanque deus processit uirginis aluo Lucis in augmento quam noctis uicerat umbra, Nos homines miseros paradisi luce remotos, Olim commissae septos umbramine culpae, Sponte relinquentes praeclara sedilia uitae Mortis perpetuae deuinctos iure catenis, Quo mortale genus lueret sua debita soluens, Sentiret meritas inflata superbia poenas, Restaurare uolens priscasque reducere sedes.


[For the Word-God proceeded from the womb of the Virgin / To the growing of the Light which had conquered the shade of night, / (For) us, miserable men, removed from the light of paradise, / Enclosed in the shade of the anciently committed sin, / Abandoning of our own accord the resplendent thrones of life, / Bound by right in the chains of eternal death, / By which the mortal race expiates by suffering its debt, / And feels what punishment its haughty pride merited, / (For us the Verbum proceeded) wishing to restore and return to us the ancient thrones.]

Contemplation of the church alone invites the mystic leap of the intellect into the spiritual realms “above the substance even of the soul.”55 In a complex but inspiring manner, Eriugena demonstrates how, as Foussard points out, “La chapelle de Charles le Chauve symbolise pleinement cette procession et ce retour—cette descente et cette montée des peuples autour des autels (v. 94): autour du Christ. Théophanie de la Sagesse, elle conduit le fidèle jusqu’à la manne des déifiés, jusqu’au repas que Dieu lui-même sert à ceux qui l’aiment.”56 But if the chapel functions as a “text” for displaying Christ as the restorer of ancient thrones, the unifying principle of coherence of the world as text, it also functions to display its builder, or “secondary mover,” on his throne. En­throned in this monument-text, Charles the Bald shines forth as a sacred, theo-sized being, as a living servant of Christ (11. 78–79, 84–85). Eriugena leaves no doubt as to the reciprocal meaning exchange between the church/temple/ throne and Charles; each signifies the other, because both signify and are sig­nified by Christ, the Word and ruler of the universe: Ipse throno celso fultus rex prospicit omnes Uertice sublimi gestans diadema paternum, Plena manus sciptris enchiridon aurea bactra: Heros magnanimus longaeuus uivat in annos.




[Himself raised on the lofty throne the king sees all / Wearing the diadem of his fathers on his sublime head, / His hand filled with sceptres bearing the golden staffs; / May this magnanimous hero live long years.]

“Uiuat in annos”: the phrase sums up perfectly the difference between the representation of the enthroned ruler in Carolingian and Ottonian times and the representation of Charlemagne after the year 1000. These rulers sit en­throned during their lifetime; only Charlemagne thrones after death. The Maiestas Domini portrays a Christ who has been through life and death and now, on the other side of history, sits enthroned in heaven. So Adémar’s verbal portrait represents Charlemagne as surviving the interment to sit in majesty after the test of death. Again like the Maiestas Domini, the Maiestas Karoli Magni appears in sacred settings. To go no further than the end of the twelfth century, we can find two striking representations of the theme worthy of comment. One is a vitrail, executed around the year 1200, the original of which used to be in the Romanesque cathedral of Strasbourg; the other is an ornate reliquary containing Charle­magne’s mortal remains, preserved today in the Palatine Chapel. Aix-la-Cha­pelle and Strasbourg were the first two cities to celebrate the cult of Charle­magne after his controversial canonization in 1165.57 The Charlemagne-in-Majesty of Strasbourg (fig. 16) sits on a square-backed throne, like the Christ at Moissac, with a prominent crown and halo. The ornate cushion associated with the thrones of the Christ-in-Majesty appears here, too. The iconography of the Strasbourg vitrail differs from that of Adémar’s description and of the Maiestas Domini in that Charlemagne does not hold an evangelium in his left hand and on his knee, but rather holds the imperial globe. In this respect, the vitrail evokes the tradition of the Christ­-with-host, found in the Vivian Bible frontispiece and in the Cambrai Gospels, and also used for the San Paolo fuori le Mura portrait of Charles the Bald (fig. 15). Like the Christ-in-Majesty, Charlemagne is surrounded by symbolic figures associated with his mythos. In this case, it is not the Evangelists or their sym­ bols but representatives of Charlemagne’s twelve disciples, the twelve peers, here figured by Roland and Oliver. These associates play an analogous role to the Gospel authors surrounding the Christ-in-Majesty by pointing to the ver­bal incarnation of Charlemagne’s mythos. The iconography of a recently discovered reference to another Charlemagne window in Alsace provides even more striking a rapprochement of Charle­magne and Christ.58 The window, now destroyed, was in the church at Lièpvre, near Ribeauvillé. It portrayed—under a crucifixion scene—the Virgin and patron saints of the church distributed in three lanceolated rows. In the lower register one saw,



Figure 16. The Emperor (Charlemagne). Late 12th c. Stained glass window. Cathedral, Strasbourg, France. from left to right: kneeling, the abbot Fulrad of Saint-Denis, founder of the monastery; the em­peror Charlemagne, seated on a throne, holding a sceptre in his hand; then Roland and Oliver, completely armed.59

This configuration of sacral beings reproduces almost precisely, including the reference to the Paschal events, the situation described by Ademar and Otto of Lomello at Aix.



Figure 17. Sarcophagus of Charlemagne (c. 1215). Cathedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Germany

We come finally to the Aachen reliquary (fig. 17), dating from the first de­ cade of the thirteenth century. This work of extraordinary beauty, more than two meters in length, must be one of the most resplendent reliquaries fabri­cated during the Middle Ages. Worked all in gold with precious gems embed­ded in the goldwork at intervals, the shrine may be seen as a figural rendering of the Light troped so richly in Eriugena’s poem Aulae Sidereae. The shrine also was made in the image of a basilica. Like its monumental counterparts, this basilica was constructed to illumi­ nate man’s darkness by means of relief scenes and sculptures representing all the facets of the life and history of Charlemagne. Since it was intended to review for the onlooker the salient features of Charlemagne’s hagiography, it depicts four hundred years of historical tradition, both verbal and icono­graphic. The reliquary would prove an inexhaustible subject if one attempted to ex­ amine the whole work. Accordingly, we must forbear to comment on more than the “façade,” that part of the reliquary that would constitute the entrance to the basilica of which the shrine is a model (fig. 18).



This portal, if one may so call it, first impresses the viewer by its symmetry, the physical balance of its parts. The symbolic symmetry could hardly be less remarkable, since the two correlate precisely. Let us note at once that the pres­ ence of Archbishop Turpin on Charlemagne’s left, as one of the accompanying attributes, reveals that Charlemagne, like Christ, will be celebrated as logos, as Historia, since Turpin plays the same role vis-à-vis Charlemagne that John does to Christ: he was at once witness and author of Charlemagne’s exploits, as we shall see in the next chapter. The figure of Charlemagne enthroned in the center is the largest statuette on the shrine (fig. 19). In his left hand Charlemagne holds the sceptre, and in his right hand a model of the church—the same church in which the shrine stands—which he may be seen .elsewhere on the shrine donating to the Virgin and Child (fig. 20). We know from John Scottus Eriugena’s Aulae Sidereae the significance of the church to its builder, especially when the builder also hap­pens to be emperor. The symbols in Charlemagne’s hands represent the conjoining of the secular and spiritual realms, the regnum et sacerdotum, in the king’s person and au­thority. The symbols clearly enunciate the balance of authority, emphasizing the position of Church and Throne in the terrestrial world and the monarch’s responsibility for them. In the twelfth century this idea served as a basis for an innovation by Abbot Suger in his reconstruction of the royal abbey at Saint Denis. It led him to flank the three portals of the main façade with column statues of Old Testa­ment kings and queens, thought to be royal ancestors of Christ. “The presence of royalty, prominently displayed on the entrance portals, was certainly appro­priate to the royal abbey, and the emphasis upon secular and spiritual authority was a basic premise in Suger’s philosophy.”60 This innovation formed the basis for some brilliant Gothic iconographic programs in portals at Chartres, Rheims, and elsewhere. In other words, the extension of the regnum et sacerdotum theme on Gothic portals occurred during the period when the Charlemagne reliquary was conceived and executed. The symbol in Charlemagne’s left hand reinforces the claims of the Church in his right. It is the symbol of authority over the secular realm, indicating that the emperor will undertake to enforce with equity and justice the prin­ciples of the Church in the world, just as he undertook to protect the Church from the world. The sceptre symbolized “the mark of royal power, termed the sceptre of rectitude and the rule of virtue, for the proper guidance of the king himself, the Holy Church, and the Christian people….”61 The emperor thus undertook to rule by the principles associated with Solo­ mon: wisdom and justice of divine rather than human origin; in short, the ideals upheld, as we saw in the last chapter, by the Reichenau apotheosis of Otto. A ninthor tenth-century manuscript drawing now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris



Figure 18. Shrine of Charlemagne. Charle­magne between Pope Leo III and Bishop Turpin. Ca­thedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Grmany.

shows Charlemagne in this role, seated on a square-backed, elevated throne, under a festooned portico (representing the temple), holding the virga, or rod of justice.62 The special religious authority vested in Charlemagne may also be judged by looking at the horizontal register of statues, whose relative proportions have been accentuated by the three niches in which they reside. It is not Ro­land and Oliver this time who represent Charlemagne’s adjuvants, but Arch­bishop Turpin and Pope Leo III, both labeled as saints. Looking at the symmetry of the horizontal register, we find that the three niches containing the statues form a triangle with Charlemagne as its center and apex. This triangle thrusts upward to form a vertical axis at whose summit we see a medallion containing a bust of the Pantokrator. Christ holds the Gos­pel in his left hand, while, with his right, he blesses Charlemagne. To empha­size the



reciprocal nature of the vertical axis, the artist fashioned Christ’s hand so that it points down toward Charlemagne, rather than having it upraised in the more usual gesture of benediction. The gesture appears the more marked by the hand’s extending out beyond the border of the medallion. The three medallions in the upper register repeat the triangular theme of the niches in the lower. But the active emptiness of the two smaller medallions— emphasized by the bright gold background and crosshatched design—above the statues of Leo and Turpin contradicts the triangular schema to some extent by emphasizing the binary, vertical axis of Charlemagne/Christ. Like the niche containing the emperor, the medallion containing Christ is not only higher but larger than the two empty ones—one more visual delineation of the Christ/ Charlemagne rapport. Charlemagne stands out here as, in the words of the Chronique Sainton­geaise, “the light of the flesh who surpasses all earthly kings after Jesus Christ.” He has thus become a principle of logos in his own right. In his being, he hypostasizes

Figure 19. Shrine of Charlemagne. Charle­magne between Pope Leo III and Bishop Turpin. Ca­thedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Grmany.



the potential of Christ to be both Word and act, that is, to generate story which transforms the disparate events of the world into a co­herent text. The reliquary literally illustrates this power of Charlemagne in the relief scenes drawn from Turpin’s Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi placed on the top of the shrine and in the succession of kings and emperors that encircle it. The principle of logos that gives meaning to all of these stories is, of course, Charlemagne, and then, through him, Christ. Like Eriugena’s reading of Charles the Bald’s church at Compiègne, the reli­quary demonstrates how Charlemagne as a generative principle of historical coherence can help the viewer to penetrate the spectacle of the intelligible world, to go beyond the fleeting events of history to recover the unity of the world as Word which time and space disperse. In effect, the Maiestas Karoli Magni demonstrates the Eriugenian principle that “All places and times bear equally the symbols of Christ that each age formulates.”63 The reliquary, containing Charlemagne’s bones, was solemnly sealed and consecrated in the Palatine Chapel by the emperor Frederick II on 27 July 1215. No chronicler was needed to recount, à la Adémar, the significance of this new resting place, for the reliquary itself told the story. The word and image of

Figure 20. Relief from the shrine of Charlemagne. Charlemagne presents the church to the Virgin Mary. Cathedral (Palatine Chapel), Aachen, Germany.



Charlemagne had indeed become a sign of royal beauty bright leading westward, as the nineteenth-century hymn says, to the perfect light of Christ in the world. And more explicitly, to the illumination of the Franks as the elect of God. Charlemagne thus ceased to be the subject of narrative tout court. Like Christ, he became a rhetorical force in his own right, a means of generating story and meaning: specific kinds of story and specific kinds of meaning. The kind of story Charlemagne’s mythos promoted was marked by the rhetorical process we have traced in this chapter. As we saw, Charlemagne could become a symbol of Christ because of the organic coherence of the synecdoche under­lying the figural process, the synecdoche of the Incarnation. The great advantage for historiographic narrative of the Maiestas Karoli Magni symbol lay in the ease with which history could be narrated in terms of the biaxial Christian epistemology, the historic and the anagogic, by associa­tion with the Charlemagne mythos. Although the story would be grounded in the phenomenal world, the symbolic system of the Charlemagne mythos guar­anteed the possibility of a rhetoric of Salvation history. This rhetoric has not been fully appreciated, particularly in the interpretation of individual works of the Charlemagne canon. In the next chapter, we shall see the implications of the figural use of the Incarnation on the narratives which developed from the new mythos of Charlemagne.



4 Historia and the Poetics of the Passion As one moves down the main aisle of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres, past the north transept with its handsome rose window donated by Blanche of Castile, the mother of Saint Louis, and into the ambulatory, where it begins to circle behind the high altar, one comes upon the most famous of the cathe­dral’s history windows: the Charlemagne window. In a cathedral noted for its spectacular stained glass, this window, a perennial favorite, arrests one with the beauty of its colors, of course, but even more with the boldness of its pageantry.1 Its subject matter evokes the most venerable chapters of the early glory of the. French monarchy and heroic age: Charlemagne’s conquest of Palestine and Spain, and the exploits of his nephew, Roland, and the Twelve Peers of France. Boldly, the iconographic program of the window conjoins elements from a number of literary sources so that the early-thirteenth-century viewer could read in pictures the full grandeur of the enterprise ascribed to Charlemagne: the conquest of a Christian imperium stretching from Palestine to the pillars of Hercules (figs. 21–23). If the historical assertions convey a sense of grandeur, the anagogic elements of the iconographic program go even farther. They link Charlemagne directly to the most sacred places of Christendom and accord him a rank in the celes­tial hierarchy on a level with the apostles and their successors. This status derives, in the assertion of the window and its literary counterparts, from Charlemagne’s role as the liberator and protector of the sacred tomb-sites of Christ in Palestine and Saint James the Great in Santiago de Compostela. In the first narrative section of the window—the six panels devoted to the Jerusalem crusade cycle (figs. 21 and 22: the schema, fig. 21, provides the key for reading figs. 22–24)—Charlemagne appears twice in company with the Byzantine emperor Constantine, whose role in discovering and embellishing the holy sites in Palestine was considered, in the Middle Ages, second in im­ portance only to his establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. He first appears with Constantine in panel 3, but let’s recall that panel 1, the “signature” panel, shows a furrier—whose guild do­nated the window—displaying a fur pelt to a client. Panel 2 shows Charle­magne, enthroned and nimbused, receiving a delegation of twobishops, one of whom bears a letter from Constantine recounting the dream shown in the next panel. In panel 3, then, we see a re-creation of the divinely inspired vision in which Charlemagne, completely armed and mounted for battle, appears before


romanesque signs

Figure 21. Schema of Charlemagne window, Chartres.

Constantine in answer to the Eastern emperor’s prayer that God send him a cham­ pion to liberate the sacred sites of Palestine. Then we see him, after complet­ing this mission (panel 4), back in Constantinople (panels 5 and 6), where a grateful Constantine confers upon him precious relics of Christ’s Passion, which he solemnly translates to his cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle (panel 7). This whole narrative sequence illustrates the “re-writing” of the Charle­magne mythos that we witnessed in the last chapter through such tenth-century texts as the Translatio Sanguinis. Now, however, the valorization of Charlemagne moves him entirely to the foreground. Constantine remains in Constantinople, where he confers upon his successor the symbols of his cus­todial role as keeper of the holy sites: the symbols of the Passion (remember that Adémar portrayed Charlemagne as having been interred with a piece of the True Cross in his crown).

historia and the poetics of the passion


Figure 22. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panels 1–7. (Photo Marburg / Art Resource, NY).

The second narrative campaign of the window, the Spanish crusade cycle (figs. 23–24), also begins with a vision. This time Charlemagne lies sleeping while Saint James the Great appears before him (panel 9) to exhort the Frank­ish emperor to liberate the land where his corporeal remains lie “unknown and without memorial.” We will have to comment on the rhetorical process underlying the genesis of these stories later. Suffice it to say for the moment that we have seen this metaleptic chain of transpositions at work before. Christ’s tomb lay “unknown and without memorial” when Saint Helena and Constantine, according to Sulpicius Severus and other chroniclers (re)founded it; the same held true when Charlemagne, according to still later legends, re­stored it. Charlemagne’s tomb lay “unknown and without memorial” when Otto III, Otto of Lomello, and Adémar de Chabannes collaborated on its (re)invention. The Chartrain window illustrates how the literary historiae which it elaborates, following the lead of its earlier model—the Charlemagne window at Saint Denis (c. 1150)2—realize Charlemagne’s status as logos, as word and act capable of generating story, above all story which deploys the disparate events of the world in a coherent text. As foreseen in the previous chapter, Charlemagne has passed from the status of a subject of texts about tombs to the constituter of such texts. Subsequent panels of the window depict Charlemagne accomplishing the task set for him by God and Saint James, and building, like Constantine in Palestine, resplendent cathedrals to commemorate the resting places of the Christian martyrs in Spain. The most famous of these was the monument erected over the tomb of Saint James in Compostela, which became, like the Church of


romanesque signs

Figure 23. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panels 7–13. 8–16. (Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY).

the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the goal of one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Christendom. One last panel devoted to what Abbot Suger of Saint Denis, describing his own stained glass windows, called “urging us onward from the material to the immaterial,”3 deserves comment. The uppermost of the central register of pan­els as the window now appears (number 22 in our schema), the panel depicts the Mass of Saint Gilles, a less well known aspect of the Charlemagne legend, at least to modern readers of the legends consecrated to the Frankish emperor. It shows Saint Gilles saying mass before an enthroned Charlemagne. A figure holding an open book stands between the emperor and the saint, while the bust of an angel holding a scroll emerges from the frame of the medallion immediately above the altar. According to the Vita Sancti Aegidii, the scroll contained God’s announce­ ment of a sin committed by Charlemagne: the incestuous union of the em­peror with his sister by which the “nephew” Roland was conceived. At the same time it reveals the sin, however, the scroll announces a divine pardon for it.4 This signal act of clemency enhanced Charlemagne’s saintly status to a considerable degree. In fact, throughout the window, Charlemagne wears the nimbus, while Roland, too, acquires it at the moment of his Passion at Ron­cevaux (panels 17, 19, 20). Clearly, the iconographic program of this so-called secular history window involves a great deal more than the simple account of the triumphs of heroes over their enemies.5 The secular accounts of imperial expansion and hegem­ony cannot be separated from religious concerns to the point where the inter­penetration of the two dimensions constitutes a basic characteristic of the narrative. And yet the anagogic component of heroic legend has often been treated as either a

historia and the poetics of the passion


Figure 24. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panels 14–24. (Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY).

superficial, derivative, or secondary element of these narra­tives, or else an ornament applied to a fundamentally secular tale in order to help it pass muster with ecclesiastical censors. In fact, we shall find that ana­gogic structures of meaning are not simply one element of the narrative lan­g uage among many, but, along with the historical or human structures, a fundamental paradigm for narrative meaning. The most solemn moments of the epic hero’s existence were cast, rhetorically and semiologically, as a metaphor of a corresponding moment in the life of Christ or an important apostle, al­though the Christ analogy generally prevailed. Form as Meaning: Iconic Structure If we look at the schematic organization of the Charlemagne window, its icon­ ological structure, we can see how strikingly it brings out and reinforces the historic/anagogic pairing which we found in the story. Scholars have long rec­ ognized that the patterns within stained glass windows, constituted by the supporting armature and leading which held the glass in place, were regarded, in the Middle Ages, as an expressive form in their own right. The patterns traced by the leading and armature within windows in a vast edifice like Chartres astound the viewer by their complexity and variety. For just as the stories told by the painted glass differ from window to window, so, too, do the patterns. As Henri Focillon observed, the techniques for this symbolic expression had been borrowed from the art of the goldsmiths, with lead replacing the gold filigree. “Le plomb,” said Focillon, “n’est pas monture seulement, il est dessin,


romanesque signs

il est valeur. Il écrit puissamment la forme et il fait chanter le ton.”6 Recent observations linking the stained glass programs, as well as the sculptural pro­ grams of twelfth-century churches with the symbolic systems of Pseudo-Dion­ ysius and Eriugena suggest that the iconic signification of the windows should help our understanding of the way in which symbolic structure constituted a separate but related kind of meaning production to narrative discourse itself, whether iconographic or verbal.7 At any rate, although the narrative panels of the Charlemagne window at Chartres, and what remains of its precursor at SaintDenis, have been much-studied, I have not found a close reading of the iconic signification of the Chartrain window. And yet such a reading tells us a good deal about structures of meaning in Romanesque art. If we ignore the actual scenes depicted in the window and concentrate in­ stead on the interplay of forms which frame the images—and which provide the armature and leading of the window—we note that the shapes resolve into a varied, but purposed repetition of lozenges, spheres, hemispheres, and squares (see fig. 21). By’ their distribution over the space of the window, these geometric shapes create a coherent pattern which generates a polysemous meaning of its own. The shapes may be taken as a whole pattern; they may be grasped in several different kinds of small-group patterns; they may be construed as three vertical columns; and finally, they may be considered as they are “read” when one follows the narrative content of the panels: horizontally from left to right in a vertical progression. If we consider the window as a whole, the vertical central column domi­nates by the dual fact of its centrality and its visual variety: it consists of alternate spheres and lozenges as opposed to the unvaried hemispheres which characterize the vertical register on either side. In addition, the shapes of the central vertical column retain their integrity—complete and undividedwhereas the flanking shapes are hemispheres further divided into an upper and lower “chamber.” The shapes themselves mean. As Georges Duby recently reminded us, the linking of squares and circles was a common symbolic device for expressing the interrelationship of heaven and earth: the circle symbolizing heaven, the square, earth.8 In the central column of the window (fig. 21), the circles—en­closed by much less boldly delineated squares—alternate with diamonds, or lozenges, which initially strike one simply as a variation on the square motif. Upon closer examination, we see that the rhombus-shaped configuration of the lozenge makes it the crucial link between the circle and the square. In other words, the three geometric patterns constitute a tripartite grouping in which the middle, or linking, element, the diamond, brings the other two to­gether to make a unit of signification which may be “read” tropologically. With its axes pointing both vertically and horizontally, the diamond shape literally represents the horizontal and vertical progression by which one reads the narrative images. Notice also how the lozenges frame circles, just as

historia and the poetics of the passion


Figure 25. Charlemagne window, lozenge/circle unit.

thesquares do, but in this case we do not find a difference in emphasis. The squares, remember, are fainter than the boldly inscribed circles they contain. The lozenges, on the contrary, stand out just as boldly as their contained circles. Another detail underlines this reciprocity between the circle and the diamond enclosing it: fleur-de-lys filler designs occupy the interstices between the edge of the circle and the apices of the diamond (fig. 25). The diagram makes it plain that the only space for a picture lies within the circle. At the same time, the circle and its picture lie within the lozenge that frames and contains. The full import of this should be apparent in a moment. Look first at the presentation of the circles in the central column as com­pared to the lozenges; the former stand alone, whereas the latter form the center of a cluster of panels. In addition, the circles connect to one another, in the central column, through the intermediary of the vertical axis of the loz­enge. Note, too, how the other axis, the horizontal one, also connects with a circular form: it penetrates into the upper and lower registers of the laterally placed hemispheres on either side of the central column. In this way, the loz­enge must be seen as the center of an image cluster extending horizontally and vertically from the circle it contains (fig. 26). But if we look at the window as a whole, we see clearly that the lozenge does not simply constitute an image cluster per se; it permits the possibility of a certain


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Figure 26. Charlemagne window, septiform cluster.

kind of image cluster, a paradigmatic one capable of repetition. And, as we know, the image clusters with the diamond-and-circle at their cen­ter do recur regularly in a pattern whose significance will become clearer shortly. Now what is the lozenge and why? The circle and the square possess clearly established symbolic meanings; no less so the diamond. Its symbolic valence may be divined initially from its function in the geometric symbolism of the window: to connect and relay the squares and circles, to establish a vertical and horizontal narrative space; in short, to contain and mediate the symbolsof heaven and earth. Projected back on the plane of symbolic equivalences, that is precisely the function of Christ’s Passion in Salvation history, and the symbolic value of the lozenge. As a shape, the diamond connects the perimeter of a Greek cross; that is, by connecting the ends of a cross whose horizontal and vertical pieces are of equal length, one forms a diamond. Now, if instead of filling in the cross whose outline has been inscribed, one were to substitute a circle in the same space, an even stronger meaning for the image emerges. For the circle is the sign of the Trinity, the whole central drama of the Passion, from Crucifixion to Pen­tecost. Both circle and cross represented Christ, which is why the iconographic sign for Christ was the nimbus with the Greek cross overlaid on it. What we see in this interplay of signs and symbols is not the application of symbolic equivalences in a literal manner, but something richer, more com­ plex. When we think about the interplay of shapes, it is clear that we have been

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witnessing a whole series of transpositions or substitutions involving rhetorical or figurative processes: metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, and met­a lepsis. These figurative processes imbue the syntax of the geometric structure of the window with their affective and intentional power. They enable virtual shapes to signify by making conspicuous the symbolic or indirect nature of meaning.9 The circle, symbol of the Trinity, occurs in consequence of the cross, symbol of the Passion, but after the Resurrection; that is, after the Revelation of Christ as Logos. But, as we saw in the previous chapter, the Trinity completes the Resurrection by permitting man to be logos, to take the paradigm of divine speech for his own. Thus it conveys the commutative property of the Passion, its power to be repeated by man; in other words, the guarantee that man, too, can participate in the procession from and return to the One. Narrative sought to make conspicuous this commutativity of the Passion by showing how exemplary humans could repeat, in their own history, the trajec­tory of the Logos. Figural language played an important role in this project, since, according to influential thinkers of the period, it was through the symbolling activity of humans that divinity manifested itself: “The Divine Es­sence will appear not in itself, but through the intellect and in intellects.10 Together with the notion that “God is both t e maker of all things and made in all things,”11 we can understand how in such an expressive system the sig­nified—or a symbol of it—could be contained in the signifier; intention in expression. In short, we see why this language needed to internalize symbols constitutive of its purpose. We noted the cross-shaped fleur-de-lys in the apices of the lozenge, and how the diamond shape evoked the cross. If we look at the whole image cluster formed by the lozenge or, indeed, at the pattern of geometric shapes over the window, we find that their coherence derives from the septiform principles by which they have been distributed. These septiform elements may be found in the vertical central column—divided into three spheres and four lozenges—and in the organization of the smaller groupings of spheres, diamonds, and hemispheres. These smaller units, the septiform clusters (fig. 26), comprise the basic structural unit for the organization of forms in the window. As figure 26 illustrates, the septiform cluster consists of three vertical units (a diamond and two spheres), and four horizontal units (the two halves of each hemisphere flanking the lozenge). At a glance, we can see that the septiform cluster organizes the three basic shapes found in the window into a unified form: that of a schematized cross; in fact, the cross suppressed in the lozenge. As one progresses from the bottom of the window to the top, the septiform cluster repeats three and a half times. Accordingly, the viewer who “reads” the window will find the narrative inscribed in a context of compelling cruciform imagery. This visual symbolism cannot but have an effect on the way in which we construe the story, particularly as regards the interrelationship of the historic and


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anagogic elements. The sign of the cross, repeated so manifestly by the septiform clusters and evoked immanently by the other septiform elements, not to mention the references to the Passion sequence made by the lozenge, must have been seen by the artist as relating significantly to the story depicted in the historiated images. Something in the structures of meaning of the lit­erary sources on which the artist drew, and their subtexts, must have suggested the appropriateness of so insistent a reference to the Passion. Space will not permit discussing all three texts on which the window bases its synthesis of the Charlemagne legend,12 but even a quick reading of the source for the Spanish crusade, the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi, re­veals that the nimbused Roland and Charlemagne who triumph over original sin and Saracens in the Chartrain window are the products of a semiotic pro­cess whereby the historic and anagogic are carefully correlated in a system of oppositions based upon a model derived from Christ’s Passion. Before taking up the question of the Historia, however, it will be useful to go back even further than the end of the eleventh century, or the early twelfth—the dating of the Historia remains moot13 —to examine manifesta­tions of cruciform symbolism in the religious art and literature of the early eleventh century. The Augmentative Aesthetic The Charlemagne window at Chartres demonstrated the conscious and paral­ lel elaboration of form and content in an artistic setting where form possessed an independent meaning correlative to, but still separate from the historiated images of the iconographic program. Historiated images, on the one hand, and the framing context of spheres, lozenges, and hemispheres organized into cru­ ciform clusters, on the other: both must be taken together, but they function oppositionally. Each has its own syntagmatic elaboration which relates to the other by reciprocal implication. The proof that each may be read as an inde­ pendent signification may be seen in the fact that each may be referred to a referent outside of and independent of the other. Henri Focillon called attention to this characteristic of Romanesque aes­ thetics in discussing ecclesiastical architecture: “Another feature which should be emphasized is the legibility of the parts. Each one was designed not only to fulfill a function, but also to proclaim it both inside and outside the church.” 14 The term augmentative (French “additif ”) has been used by some art historians to describe the paradox in Romanesque architecture of a form in which each part may be viewed at once as an independent statement and as a subor­dinate element contributing to the constitution of a coherent whole. Speaking of the façade of the cathedral of Trèves, Louis Grodecki describes this tendency as follows:

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It would be hard to imagine a better illustration of the thesis which defines the structure of space in Romanesque art as “augmentative” [“additif ”], composed as it is of juxtaposed parts each of which may be perceived independently; a complex that unites, as distinct elements, towers, turrets, apse, portals, this façade gives rise to a maximum potential for forms where no liturgical function is sacrificed, no novelty refused.15 Whatever term one uses to identify the phenomenon, however, the essential point to bear in mind is the paradox that coherence derives from composite­ness, unity from diversity. Perhaps a more accurate term than augmentative—which denotes the aesthetic process very well, but not the symbolic inspira­tion for it— would be triune, for it is the analogy of the trinity which clearly underlies the structural principle of coherent compositeness. Triune aesthetic also reminds us that the expressive processes at work here belong to the domain of artistic or poetic language. To make a coherent state- ment from diverse elements, where the base elements remain visible—thereby rendering the statement richer and more complex by permitting an association of ideas that would not otherwise be apparent—constitutes a fundamental property of metaphoric expression: its comparative aspect. As Nietzsche pointed out, “Metaphor is a brief comparison, just as, in return, comparison may be designated as ‘amplified metaphor.’“16 The triune aesthetic permits context, form, and structure to provide an intentional setting for historiated content, a setting which signifies in its own right. This signification consti­tutes the element of directed vision identified in the first chapter—a kind of prereading of the story by the author or artist inscribed in the form or structure of the work. Recent studies on the relationship of liturgy and architecture show how this principle could link architecture and ritual, text and context in the eleventh century. The triune aesthetic established a correlation between ritual space and architectural space so compelling as to bring about the modification of ecclesiastical architecture to accommodate symbolically structured liturgical rites.17 The church edifice, under this impulse, gradually changed from a series of parts each more or less detached and set off from the others18 into a complex but unified whole with open, flowing spaces, a condition that facilitated the elaborate, symbolic liturgical processions that had become so significant a part of religious expression by the eleventh century. According to the principle of the augmentative aesthetic, architectural space had come to be viewed also as liturgical space, space that could be used to enhance the liturgy, and the two functioned conjointly to interpret in exciting ways the principal symbol of Christianity: the cross as representation of the historic and anagogic charac­teristics of Christ.19 The French art historian Carol Heitz recently studied the conjunction of cruciform symbolism and liturgical offices in the pre-Romanesque period in a


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fascinating article entitled, “Architecture et liturgie processionnelle a l’époque préromane.”20 Heitz points out, among other things, that we can scarcely com­ prehend the pervasiveness of cruciform symbolism’ in early medieval thought today, although it is possible to get some idea of its extent from the fact that it underlay rites as basic as the fraction of the host into seven parts disposed on the paten in the form of a cross during the mass. This simple act could be seen and comprehended by an individual observer. But cruciform principles informed much more extensive and complex ritu­a ls whose effect could not be perceived by a single observer, let alone by the participants as a whole. Records exist, for example, of intricate liturgical processions during which hundreds of participants, simultaneously following different itineraries, each one coordinated with the others, visited the different chapels and altars in the church. These processions were “regularly performed by the monks according to a precisely codified processional choreography.”21 The description of the processions comes from the late-eleventh-century chronicle of the old Norman abbey of Centula/Saint-Riquier by one of its monks, Hariulf.22 These processions, according to Hariulf, quite literally sought to inscribe the figure of the cross by their complex movements. They expressed this purpose at least twice: symbolically by the septiform principles of the choreography, and literally by the cross-shape traced by the itinerary: Transposing these itineraries into diagrammatic form reveals a harmonious and powerful orchestration. The second itinerary is especially revealing. While the monks progress in four movements from one liturgical pole to the other: from the Holy Savior (on the west) to Saint-Riquier (on the east), they recess to the Altar of Saint-Maurice in three. The sum of the combined movements gives the number seven. The “septiform” order also appears in the division of the itineraries: four movements are performed together,…three, separately…. The liturgical chore­ography allowed them to give thanks to God in a beautiful “pilgrimage” inter­spersed with prayers…at altars arranged in the form of a cross.23 Heitz feels that the ultimate expression of this symbolic conjunction of set­ ting and ritual may be found in the description given by Hariulf of the great Easter procession at Centula/Saint-Riquier. To appreciate it, we must remem­ber that the monastery of Centula, founded by Angilbert, a nephew of Char­lemagne, had a tower church dedicated to the Savior. This is the left tower in a seventeenth-century engraving of the monastery (fig. 27). Like the martyria discussed in chapter 3, the huge edifice of the tower church, Saint-Sauveur, at Centula served to set off the crypt, or tomb space, which contained the most precious treasure of the abbey: twenty-five relics of Christ. Not only the relics of Christ had been brought back from the Holy Land; the design

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Figure 27. The abbey of Centula/Saint-Riquier, 1673. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale)

of the church itself, like Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel at Aix, was intentionally linked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jeru­salem.24 It was not sufficient that the church and its sacred contents provide the sole commemoration of the Holy Sepulchre, however. At the mass of Easter Sun­day, some fifteen hundred celebrants and participants distributed themselves in the Turris Sancti Salvatoris in a manner which made the tower church a huge cruciform with people, ritual objects, and relics filling in the symbolicoutline of the cross framed by the edifice. This ritual gesture briefly transposed the church from a symbol of the tomb space where the Resurrection occurred into a metaphor of the Passion place and sign. In the ritual, the human partic­ipants became figurations of the “lignum vitae” of the cross, as well as of the human/historic aspects of Christ transposed, in a paradigm of grace that would have import for all humans in the belief of the time, by the miracle of the Cross. The participants, in Hariulf ’s words, thus “demonstrated the septiform grace of the Holy Spirit.”25


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In this cruciform tableau (fig. 28), the celebrants and participants occupied positions consonant with their real-life relationship to the sacred and secular. Thus, the lay participants, belonging to the temporal domain of space and human history, took positions in the tower church in such a way as to form the arms of the cross, the men being separated from the women, as was the custom of the period. The women occupied the south arm, the side corre­sponding in Last Judgment scenes to the sinister, or hell-side, of Christ. The men assembled in the north augmentum, to form the right arm of the cross, the side reserved for the elect in Last Judgment scenes. The monks who celebrated the mass and who by vocation were the sacer­dotes representing the anagogic realm occupied the center of the tower, on the vertical axis of the Church/Cross, directly over the capsula major—the reli­quary of the Savior—and immediately under the high church and spire, that part of the edifice which sweeps up and points to heaven. Metaphorically fig­urations of Christ and the apostles, the monks stood at the nexus of the hori­zontal and vertical members of this living cross. On the transverse register, they stood between the two lay groups, signifying at once the connection be­tween sacerdotal and secular humanity symbolized by Christ, the teacher, but at the same time marking the difference achieved by separating themselves from the world. Their simultaneous position on the vertical register marked this difference. Occupying that part of the cross which in a crucifix would correspond to the torso of Christ, the monks comprised the sole living elements of the vertical register, thus emphasizing their literal and figurative status as homines eruditi already embarked upon the ascent toward the One. Their example mediated this halfway state for the laity, who—like the figures on the lintel at Autun—had to complete their trajectory on the horizontal path before beginning the ascent toward the divine essence. In this tableau, the monks played the same role, connecting the two registers through their own meaning and position, as the lozenges in the septiform clusters of the Charlemagne window at Chartres. In studying the diagram (fig. 28) of the Paschal ritual at Centula, we should bear in mind that Hariulf, who described the office in his Chronicon Centu­ lense, firmly believed that the Turris Sancti Salvatoris had been built as it was precisely to accommodate such ritual enactment of cruciform symbolism. Like the Chartrain window, Hariulf ’s Centula and its rites demonstrate the aesthetic of coherent compositeness, the triune concept in which the figura­tive and literal use of cruciform symbolism logically ties together elements from a number of different media, not excluding human ritual gesture. Above all, we should note Hariulf ’s assumption that the historic and human natu­rally serve to denote their opposites, the anagogic and eternal: the living tab­leau in the Church of the Holy Savior on Easter Sunday quite literally obliged the celebrants to mime their trajectory in Salvation history.

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Figure 28. Diagrammatic representa­tion of the Timis Sancti Salvatoris at Centula/ Saint-Riquier during the Pas­chal Mass.

The Passion in Art and Literature We can scarcely understand such an intensely emotional involvement with the cross cult in the eleventh century unless we also comprehend the value of the Passion at that time. This evocation of the crucifixion of Christ with its human witnesses, Mary and John, provided seemingly inexhaustible inspira­tion for artists of the period. In their carvings, manuscript paintings, and writ­ings, the Passion became a metonymic evocation of the whole process whereby ordinary humanity might triumph over the physical and social limi­tations of worldly history. What fascinated people at that time was the paradox of the Passion. A historical event, taking place at a precise moment in human time—more significantly still, at a specific moment of the linear time seen to circumscribe world history, that is, the middle of the temporal span whose beginning was the Creation and Fall told in Genesis and whose end would be the Apocalypse and Last Judgment—the Passion nonetheless contradicted his­torical determinacy. Instead of the ending intended by its human perpetrators, the Passion turned out to be a beginning; a guarantee that the second and greater life—for those condemned to experience the dismal everyday life of medieval Europe—did indeed come after “death.” By putting death


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in quota­tion marks, by showing that it was but a necessary passage, the Passion, as it was then interpreted, proved that God spoke a language not governed by the rules of human speech or thought. Fulbert of Chartres, who died in 1027, the most learned man of his time and to whom we are indebted for constructing the crypt of the present Cathedral of Chartres, provides a key to understanding the affective attachment of the people at this time to the Cross and Passion as liberating forces in human history. Fulbert treats the Cross and the Passion less as subjects for didactic exposition than as the generative elements of language. In a Latin poem, “De Sancta Cruce,” he tropes the cross as a living symbol. Through an intense apostrophe, Fulbert’s text conveys to us the rhetorical potential of this symbol to convey meaning in those emotional and subjective terms which penetrate so deeply into the individual consciousness in exactly the way Nietzsche de­scribed.26 Fulbert tropes the cross as a personified synecdoche for Christ, a Christ who metaphorized in his own historia the historia of humanity; he did so, Fulbert shows us, by revitalizing a dead metaphor. Death was a consequence of the Fall; a continual expulsion from meaning to nothingness. Fulbert, drawing upon a prominent Eriugenian concept, shows how Christ made death a meta­phor for a new genesis, but a genesis beyond irremedial lapse; a genesis in which humanity can participate because a genesis in which the language of God can be approximated by the language of man.27 Salvation history consti­tutes a series of dual references, of double meanings: Christ, Fulbert shows, achieved the ultimate in paradoxical expression not simply by dying in order to live, but by expressing a double story in this act, the story of the Fall and the Passion. A commonplace in the typology of the period, this duality creates the expec­ tation of biaxial signification. We can see how natural a basis for rhetorical structure it was by observing the facility with which Fulbert interweaves double meanings in the language of his poem so that almost each phrase, in­deed many individual lexical items, expresses the dual referentiality whereby the language of the Passion also evokes the language of the Fall. In this way the Passion rhetoric literally deconstructs the lapsarian imagery which thereby assumes a new figurative reference as a trope on the Passion. August Standard of the all-ruling King, O Holy Cross, outshining all heaven’s stars, You alone restore to those who fell through the taste of death, The remedy of life, bearing an eternal fruit. You I worship, you I confess, and, prostrate on my knees, I revere and adore you. Christ the beginning, end, resurrection and life, Reward, light, rest, glory of the saints and crown, The Lord who offered to redeem his servants,

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By hanging from you with a tree’s help took away the poison that came from a tree, And opened again the closed doors to life.28 “And opened again the closed doors to life…”: Fulbert could hardly have found a more striking example of the rhetorical force of the Passion as media­tor between the universal and the intensely subjective. The remainder of the poem illustrates this point by troping Fulbert’s own life as an example of the transposition brought about in the potential meaning of “ordinary” human and historical existence by the Passion as genesis. Fulbert himself thus be­comes the object—one of the servants liberated by the Lord (line 9)—of Christ’s gestural discourse: “The Lord who offered to redeem his servants / By hanging from you with a tree’s help took away the poison that came from a tree.” The vertical/horizontal axes evoked by the imagery acquire syntagmatic re­ inforcement by Fulbert’s assertion of equivalence between himself and his flock and the scriptural servants. We find, then, two constant levels of spatial and temporal reference—the in illo tempore and the hic et nunc, the in loco sancto and the in loco isto—corresponding to the equation of Scripture and Fulbert’s own text, that is, of Logos and logos. The interplay of referentiality shows how meaning can be generated between the two axes of signification: Fulbert simply makes his own example follow the biaxial pattern established for the story of Christ. The two stories, paradigm and exemplum, thereby re­flect one another while at the same time authenticating each other. That is, the model serves as an “authority” for the exemplum, while the exemplum guarantees the “truth” of the model by realizing it in the here and now All of this illustrates very well how the augmentative aesthetic generates incremental signification, that is, signification surpassing that which could possibly be attributed to the parts taken separately. It also suggests the extent to which the cross as sign tended to reproduce itself, to encourage replication within the texts of stories which took the Passion as a model and in their form. Early manuscripts of Hrabanus Maurus’s poem, “De Laudibus Sanctae Cru­cis,” tend to have figural images of the subject overlaid on the text or else to have the text laid out on the manuscript in cruciform.29 We may better under­stand this penchant for cruciform imagery and narrative if we now look briefly at some examples in art. The Rhetoric of the Image: “Reading” the Passion in Ivory Sculpture One of the richest sources for our understanding of the augmentative aesthetic of cruciform symbolism in the early Middle Ages may be found in the ivory sculpture and manuscript illuminations of the period. The corpus of ivory carvings was collected and published by the German art historian Adolph Goldschmidt in the early years of this century.30


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Figure 29. Crucifixion, German (ninth cen­tury).

Representations of the Passion in this corpus are frequent and of two basic kinds: those giving the minimum number of iconographic details required to constitute the signifying unit which we call a “Passion,” as distinct from a simple crucifix, and those representations which have been expanded to in­clude details of the eschatological events preceding and following it. The latter sometimes include everything from the Fall to the Last Judgment. Let us look at two examples of the first kind of Passion, that reduced to the essentials. During the period that concerns us, three pairs of elements proved sufficient to signify “Passion”: Christ affixed to the cross; Mary and John the Evangelist with a book or scroll); the sun and the moon. The placard giving the abbreviation for “Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum” sometimes appears affixed to the head of the cross; at other times, the Hand of God replaces it. Figure 29 shows a relatively simple ninth-century German example of such a Passion. Looking at it, we immediately discern two levels of visual signifi­cation: a prominent foreground consisting of the large figure of Christ and the very wide cross in contrast to the smaller figures of Mary and John and the personified sun and moon. Because of the disposition of the cross, its emphatic division of the image field, we have to regard the background figures in two horizontal registers corresponding to the transverse member of the cross that divides the image field in

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Figure 30. Crucifixion, Winchcomb Psalter, British (eleventh century). (Cambridge Uni­versity Library, MS Ff. 1.23. 88r)

half. The Crucifixion being the event which placed Christ at the nexus conjoining the secular and the anagogic, the historic and the eternal, it is natural that Christ and the cross be the dominant figures in the carving. This Christ, as opposed to the Christ in the tenth-century Winchcomb Psal­ter illumination (fig. 30), is not a dead or dying figure, but a living Christ—even down to the sandals on his feet, indicating his readiness to walk the road to Emmaus with his disciples—who bears on his body the dramatically height­ened stigmata of real death. The main thrust of Christ’s figure in the carving, aided by the wide cross, is vertical, although the arms of the cross, and Christ’s own carefully modeled arms and hands, with’ the streams of “living” blood flowing from them, do throw the horizontal register into secondary prominence. Since the basic mes­sage of the Passion concerns the simultaneity of Christ’s participation in the historic and anagogic, the composition must establish the biaxiality of the narrative. Our “reading” of the


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scene will necessarily relate all the other ele­ments to the two axes posited by the dual central image: Christ and the cross. As in Charlemagne’s window at Chartres, the formal structural elements di­rect our interpretive reading, or at least seek to do so. Fulbert’s poem to the cross stressed the elements of logical contradiction inherent in Christ’s Passion through the use of such rhetorical figures as irony, oxymoron, syllepsis, and synecdoche. Interestingly enough, we find the visual equivalent of these tropes expressed in the carving. The conflict of opposing tensions—life-death, history-anagogy, human-di­ vine, light-darkness, darkness overcome by death-as-life—inscribes itself in the image by what we can only see as a contradiction in its mode of self-pre­sentation. We find it impossible to read the secondary elements of the image field other than horizontally. Yet, we shall also find that the horizontal regis­ters are meaningless without reference to the single vertical register, which itself cannot mean without the participation of the horizontal registers. The three horizontal registers superimposed one upon the other form an ascending unit of signification; they must each be read horizontally, but taken together they form a whole story which can be understood only by reading “up,” that is, from bottom to top. The horizontal registers, then, imitate the vertical axis and, in so doing, contradict themselves. This sense of contradiction turns out to contribute an important part of the meaning conveyed by the image, which sought not to resolve the conflict of opposing axes but to state it; to assert flatly that this asymmetrical symmetry disclosed a central existential truth of Christ’s Pas­sion: that once and for all the vertical connection of heaven and earth, through the Word, proved dominant over any worldly meanings. In short, the conflict re-presents—in the sense of making immediate—the vertical thrust of the Word-God across the varied forms of human discourse to prove that time, not space, is the issue because theophany rather than history finally constitutes the signification of such reiterations of the Passion. The rhetoric of the image, in other words, sought to prove the primacy of the temporal—the passage from time to eternity—rather than the spatial in all representations of historiae: “In principio erat uerbum.” The point may seem obvious here, but we must un­derstand it in an obvious context before passing to texts where its presence has not been perceived.31 This asymmetrical symmetry, a kind of oxymoronic structure, governs the reading of the whole image. First of all, the four secondary figures present themselves in semiprofile, as opposed to the frontally portrayed Christ. Since the lateral figures turn toward Christ, the eye naturally moves from them hor­izontally back to the central, primarily vertical figure. The gestures made by the lateral figures also direct the viewer’s gaze back toward the center, where the attributes of Christ, the cross, cruciform nimbus, the écriteau, and Christ’s body itself command attention. But if the lateral figures look and gesture toward the center, they also indi­cate one another: each pair of lateral figures forms a symmetrical unit consti­tuting a

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horizontal register in that part of the picture. That horizontal unit—below the arms of the cross and Christ for Mary and John, above, in the case of the sun and moon—also determines how we experience these figures as signification, how we “read” them. Syntactically, each secondary element forms a pair with its opposite number; each requires the other to signify, and that signification can occur only horizontally. At the same time, the symmetry of each of these horizontal units fails of completion because of the vertical thrust in its center of the Christ mass, which reminds us that, taken singly, the horizontal units have no meaning. Mary and John, taken in conjunction with Christ, constitute narrative units of signification within the larger story of the Passion. They are secondary ele­ ments in that larger historia because without the dominant, central Christ which separates and yet connects them, their story possesses little historical import and no anagogic significance. Similarly, in the upper register, the personified sun and moon shown in pos­tures expressive of mourning—the inverted torches signifying the darkness during the hours when Christ agonized—derived their significance from the Christ figure toward whom their heads bend and their inverted torches point. Their grief-stricken attitudes, as well as the symbols of personification, would be meaningless in themselves. Taken in conjunction with the central Christ figure, they become discrete units of meaning and complete the concept of universal mourning introduced in the lower register where Mary and John fig­ure human grief. One other set of elements in the carving reinforces the subordination of the horizontal register to the vertical while at the same time providing a concrete image of the textual foundation for the whole scene: the words in the carving. They stand out because of their difference from the other visual components, because of their dual function as visual element and textual element pointing to the larger text underlying the whole scene. As text in their own right, the words provide a commentary on the images, reproducing the groupings by threes which we saw in the lower and upper registers of the carving. The words do not simply overdetermine the signification of the images, however; they realize the irony, or, more properly, the ironic reversal by which the Passion attains its principal meaning. Besides functioning as labels for the figures within the carving, “Maria” and “Iohann” disclose the full significance of the title IHSNZRX at the top of the vertical column. For the Romans an ironic, even scornful, epithet, this title assumes literal and figurative value for the medieval Christian precisely be­ cause of the divinity of Christ revealed by the Passion, as attested particularly by the roles of Mary, the Virgin Mother, and John, the witness and author. These functions remain tacit in this carving, but in the next illustration (fig. 30) they surface as a specific part of the verbal text within the illumination. There the


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term “Uirgo” completes the label “Maria,” while “Iohann” carries an open book or square piece of parchment on which is written “et ego vidi et testimonium.” The visual disposition of the words in the carving also realizes the symbolic message. The human names “Maria” and “Iohann,” distributed on the hori­zontal arms of the cross, form the base of a triangle whose apex is the label IHSNZRX at the head of the cross. Whether one reads from apex to foot or foot to apex makes little difference. Either way, we find the circular progression from divine to human, human to divine; in short, the story of Christ, whose critical moment of transition from human to divine—a passage revealing his original divinity—occurs in the Passion here depicted. The virginal conception figured by Mary, and John’s “In principio erat uerbum et uerbum fuit Deum” attest to this progression. The ease with which these disparate elements com­bine into one structure of meaning, while retaining their potential for indepen­dent signification, illustrates yet again the principle of the augmentative aes­thetic. Our reading of the carving discloses how the minimal units of signification work to confirm our identification of the scene as a “Passion.” But it is more than the simple accretion of minimal elements of visual meaning that makes this image a coherent unit identifiable as a “Passion.” That would require our taking the image in isolation, our ignoring a whole set of references which it makes; in short, ignoring the underlying text, whose indicators figure so prominently in the image field itself. The interest of the scene, hinted at in the title “Passion,” arises from the interplay between textual reference and visual image, on the one hand, and the oppositional tension rendered by the shifting emphasis between vertical and horizontal axes on the other. Indeed, the dynamics inherent in the asymmetrical symmetry we have analyzed de­rives from the knowledge of the original text(s) continuously evoked by the carving. To begin with, the scene elaborates these texts, one of whose authors ap­pears holding a representation of his gospel. These original texts give rise to commentaries which point to the specific importance of this moment and scene as crucial to the meaning of the whole story. They also stress, as we saw in Eriugena, the concept of procession and return, the dominance of the verti­cal and anagogic over the human and historic. They privilege John over the other Gospel writers,32 point out the multivalences of Mary, the cross, and so on. We cannot take the carving as a simple representation of the original Gospeltext, then, since it illustrates not only the historia, or Bible text, but also the theoria, as Eriugena calls the theological elaboration of biblical texts.33 This point helps to explain why structures of meaning in Romanesque art forms tend to incorporate interpretive symbols as well as the basic narrative; or, to put it slightly differently, why Romanesque art privileged forms that include story and commentary; in short, why they affect the augmentative aesthetic. The point, Eriugena says, is not simply to present the two in their different spheres, but

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above all to show that they do not conflict, that, on the contrary, their apparent differences finally cohere to constitute the basic harmony of the Christian world view. Accordingly, in our ivory carving and Psalter illumination, we find this biax­ial meaning production with incremental enlightenment as we move from the literal, historic axis to the figurative plane inscribed on the image field. Thus the triangle of historiated figures distributed in the lower register—Mary John, and Christ— is simultaneously replicated and transformed rhetorically to an­other register of meaning potential—the verbal or textual realm of theoria­by the triangularly disposed words in the upper register: MARIA, IOHANN, IHSNZRX. Cruciform Semiosis in La Passion du Christ The interplay we have just witnessed between literal meaning and figurative interpretation suggests some of the ways by which cruciform symbolism, or, more properly speaking, cruciform semiosis, imparts a more complex dimen­sion to biaxial narrative.34 We may confirm these tendencies, as well as under­stand the essentially rhetorical basis of the meaning structures generated by cruciform semiosis, in one of the earliest extant vernacular literary works, the Franco-Provençal Passion du Christ. This largely unexplored work, also known as the Clermont-Ferrand Pas­ sion,35 probably dates from the late tenth century, judging from its language, an interesting mixture of Occitan and Old French. In 129 quatrains of asso­nanced, octosyllabic verse, the poem recounts in detail the events of Christ’s Passion from Palm Sunday to the Ascension. As a result, it explicitly inscribes in its text the ironic reversal between the meanings of triumph and tragedy invested in these events by the Gospels. Whereas the latter leave the reversal of meaning virtual—part of the veiled predictions Christ makes to his disci­ples prior to the events (for example, John 15, 16)—the Clermont-Ferrand text emphasizes the Passion as rhetorical transformation on two levels—triumph­tragedy/tragedy-triumph—occasioned by the cross. This fascinating work merits study in its own right. Unfortunately, we can examine only that aspect of it dealing with the reciprocal significations pro­jected by the Christ/Mary equivalence. The Clermont-Ferrand poem sought to direct attention to Mary’s role in rendering explicit the biaxial nature of Christ’s story in several ways that play upon figural parallels between Christ’s birth and death. Not only does Mary play an articulated role in the Passion that goes beyond a passive presence at the Crucifixion, but her presence allows the poet to trope the new tomb in which the deposed Christ was laid as a second virgin womb; the burial then becomes a threeday gestation leading to a postmortem parturition:


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dunc lo pausen el monument o corps non jag anc a cel temps. La so madre virge fu, et sen pecked si portet lui; sos monument fure toz nous, anz lui no i jag unque nulz om.

89 [351–56]

[Then they laid him in the tomb where no body had lain before that time. / His own mother was a virgin and bore him without sin; his tomb was new, before him no man had ever lain there.] A few lines previously, the Passion had described the role played by Mary at the Crucifixion in a manner that renders explicit the oxymoronic nature of the event demonstrated by the ninth-century German carving, where the valences of grief and joy, death and life figure prominently: De laz la croz estet Marie de cui Jhesus vera tarn presdre: cum cela tarn vidre murir, qual agre dol no l’sab om vius. Ela molt ben sab remembrar de soa carn cum Deus fu naz; ja l’vedes ela si morir, el resurdra, cho sab per ver.


84 [329–36]

[Beside the cross stood Mary, from whom Jesus received true flesh. Now she will see that flesh die; what bitter grief (she feels) no living man may know. / She re­members all, too well how God was born from her flesh, now she might be seeing him die, (but) he will arise, that she knows for truth.] As the second, third, fifth, and sixth lines of this extract show us, Mary first of all conveys the concept of “humanness” in contrast to the idea of “divinity” conveyed by the names “Christ” and “God,” as well as by the last two lines. Formulaically, we have a basic equation, Mary:humanity:: God:divinity, which will continue to signify even as the connotations of the scene necessar­ily assume greater complexity. Mary does not simply signify “humanness” in, a passive sense; her womb, as the text tells us, plays a special role in the history of humanity. Like the tomb, it was an agent of rhetorical metamorphosis: the place where God be­came man, where Jesus, the Verbum, assumed “true flesh” (vera tarn), the sign of humanity. In a very real sense, then, Mary functions here as a text which allows us to read Christ as having the dual value—human and divine, history and anagogy—necessary to the signification “Christ.”

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In the historia of Christ, “Mary” forms the link enabling him to be the nexus of the anagogic and historic and therefore a synecdoche for redeemed humanity. Mary appeared at every major stage of Christ’s human passage in the art of the period—birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension. But it is her appearance at the Crucifixion that conveys most strikingly Mary’s place in the human/divine continuum. These scenes show Mary beside Christ and God above him; in other words, she, signifies the human, on the horizontal plane, God, the divine, on the vertical, and Christ lies between at the point of junc­ture of the two planes and conditions. Mary also interprets Christ’s dual sign value for the audience, showing how the scene should be read as both ironic and literal, as constitutive of “pres­ence” as well as of “absence.” The text chooses this moment to remind us that the poles of Jesus’ earthly trajectory were Mary’s womb and Joseph’s tomb. They may be equated thanks to Christ’s contradiction of the old concept of “death,” which makes the tomb, like the womb, a place of formation and a point of departure. The Crucifixion thus assumes the role of an Annunciation: it presages the filling of the virgin tomb not with a permanent signifier of death as a constant, but with a permanent signifier of emptiness, of the transience of death, of the rebirth that contradicts death just as the empty womb signifies gestation as a transient state between nonbeing and being. The Crucifixion thus, signals the “death of an ending” and paves the way for the metonymic subordination of “tomb” to “womb.” As the trope for womb, Mary conveys the alternate condition of presence and absence associated with that term: the womb is either full or empty, al­ though its potential as a generator of being remains at all times. We then see how “womb” and consequently Mary—becomes also a metonym for mind, or heart, those medieval seats of understanding in humans where Christ—as we saw in Eriugena’s commentary on the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and in the Conversation with Nicodemus—could either be present or absent, although the potential for presence remained possible at all times. These and other passages repeat the lesson that each person, like Mary, could be a womb giving birth to the “belief in the name of God’s only Son” (John 3:18) and thus to the certitude that through belief, death would prove not rupture but repetition.36 The substitution of womb for tomb suggests that the ultimate contradiction wrought by the Crucifixion upon the concept of death lay in its substitution of repetition, or rebirth, for the connotations of rupture, closure, and finality that mark it at the worldly level. Through repetition, death ceased to be a rupture with life and instead became a crucial link in a chain of being for which womb and tomb simply serve as transitional markers. Mary shows the audience how human expression may mediate the duality of absence and presence. Her mourning for Christ conveys the reality of his death (absence) and consequently her belief in the purpose of his presence and the


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certitude of his re-presentation: “and the Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” Present at the main events of Christ’s earthly life, Mary fulfills a very hu­man function, that of the mother participating in the joys and sorrows of her child (“qual agre dol no l’sab om vius”). Not only does she link the divine and human in and through Christ, by the mediation of her body and sign value as genetrix, she also links Christ and the audience through her emotion. Grief-stricken at the death of Christ, she also knows the joy of his impending triumph, his regeneration, which will complement and extend to the audience her own original role and function (“el resurdra, cho sab per ver”). Like the Mary in the carving, this one participates in a dual register: a historical present and an eternal future; even as she mourns, she knows that the re-presentation will occur, and the audience knows that the text itself constitutes a re-presen­tation, a repetition, or ritual reenactment of the original scene. Emotion, the movement of the psyche in response to perception of events, serves a primary purpose in religious ritual participation. Affective response “proves” the “reality” of the divinity by demonstrating its power to dwell within the participant and thus to exist at a basic level of human response. Both in the image texts of the Passion and in the Clermont-Ferrand poem, the emotional valence of Mary constitutes an important part of the meaning con­veyed by the text. We should note also how the affective response provides an image within the text of the correct interpretation of the Scripture which subtends these Passion scenes. Mary performs the responses which the audience is meant to have. Again, the human/divine continuum figures. Emotional response, “mourning,” equates with the connotation “humanness” conveyed by Mary, with whom the audience identifies. This emotion, an effort to understand the event, and thus a form of spiritual ascension as described by Eriugena, elicits a reciprocal response from the divine end of the continuum in the form of com-passion, a constituent of grace. Com-passion, emotion attendant on a passion, signified the divine reaction that humanity had been told it would gain from the ritual sacrifice, or rather from its belief therein. Compassion clearly signifies more for the audience than for Christ (in these re-presenta­tions), for it guarantees that individual humans would indeed be able to “put themselves” in Christ’s place and so repeat his contradiction of death as rupture. Mary also functions as the mediator for this very desire on the part of the audience: through her may be attained that access to the vertical ascension which the Passion taught was the central metaphor of Christian life. Just as her mourning aroused divine compassion for Christ, so it could do the same for the imitatio Christi, or human, who imitated him. Mary shows us the importance of the human mediating figure in these re­ presentations of the Passion. Standing between Christ and the audience, linked

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to each, she enables the text to generate emotional correlates. These in turn permit the audience to comprehend the immanence of the divine in the world by watching and identifying with a human figure, other than Christ’s, who accomplishes a progression through the world culminating in a reintegra­tion with the divine. In sum, the progression and return portrayed on the theo­phanic tympanums like that of Autun. From this perspective, the human/historical plane becomes a natural con­ stituent of the anagogic/eternal; the qualities associated with purely sacred beings found in the celestial spaces—the angels, saints, and so on—may be seen to have their origins, in the case of saints, for example, in transformations of being that began in the world. The texts that deal with these themes thus undertake to transform the purely spatial conception of the historic and ana­gogic planes into an existential conception. Not place, but being—the dual nature and quality of life in a given place—determines progress toward theosis. To make this point, the Clermont text specifically develops the return to his disciples after the Passion. It has Christ, in a much more insistent manner than in the Gospel, repeat the Passion-as-lesson. Before the astonished eyes of the disciples—and, one imagines, the equally astonished ears of the tenth- and eleventh-century audience—Christ repeats the Passion as a catechism, show­ ing how his own biography unites the historical and the divine in a new kind of existential experience. He returns, in short, to offer himself as a rhetorical figure, Anakephalaiosis, or Recapitulation—to use Saint Paul’s term for Christ as recapitulation of human and divine history.37 He will thus demonstrate how the seemingly unique and unrepeatable sacrifice of the Crucifixion could be transformed into a language of sacrifice capable of infinite repetition by hu­mans who, by assuming this language, could transform their own experience of the world into the same multidimensional phenomenon as Christ’s. In essence, Christ teaches the language of the Passion to his disciples at the end of this work—written during the tenth century, when the cross cult began to emerge as a powerful intellectual and artistic force. But Christ’s instruction served less as a mimesis of an actual event than as a lesson, for the people of the period, of the means by which the central drama, so specific to his cult, could be transposed into other settings and assumed by other heroes, such as Roland, whose case we shall examine shortly. Christ as Recapitulation The ending of the Clermont-Ferrand Passion occurs in three stages in which Christ demonstrates the concept of symbolic language-as-being three times: first, in his own case, then for the disciples, and finally for the audience. Rec­ognizing that the predictions of the Passion prior to the event—as in the Con­versation with


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Nicodemus—had figured the act in language, but not in the flesh, as it were, Christ now returns to his disciples to recapitulate the event in his own person, to show them that the tomb has indeed been a womb and death a rebirth. More importantly, he instructs them in the art of reading his risen being as both human and spiritual, historia and theoria. This theophany really consti­tutes a reading lesson which stresses the dual valence of the body of Christ as a being who has been reborn in the flesh and the spirit, just as the Conversa­tion with Nicodemus had urged. The language of the Clermont-Ferrand text seems surprisingly sophisti­cated. Christ specifically presents himself as a “textualized” being, a figure in which the story of his having been “stretched out” (pandere) on the cross may be read. He literally reveals himself in the flesh, but also points to the flesh where the markers of his ordeal remain clearly imprinted. He tells the disci­ples that he is, but at the same time he tells them that he is what he was, a crucified being who has survived death. Prior to the Crucifixion, in the Con­versation with Nicodemus, or the Sermon on Ends, he had spoken metaphor­ically to describe what would come to pass; now he has become metaphor, but, like the earlier metaphors he used, this fleshly metaphor, too, requires instruction to decipher. As before, Christ serves as docent: “Pax vobis sit,” dis a trestoz; 109 “eu soi Jhesus qui passus soi: vedez mas mans, vedez mos peds, vedez mo laz, qu’i fui plagaz.” [“Peace be with you,” he said to all, “I am Jesus who suffered: look at my hands, look at my feet, look at my side which was wounded.”] By pointing to the signs which allow the disciples to read the story of the Crucifixion written in his skin or flesh, Christ invokes the textual metaphor (“qui passus soi”) which can never be far from one presented, like Christ, as both Word and Sign. He invites the disciples to read the story of the Crucifix­ion written in his flesh repeatedly: “vedez…vedez…vedez.” But what precisely is the nature of the act he invites them to undertake here? Not simply to read the story of his Passion in his flesh, but rather to comprehend the full import of acquiescing to the suffering of exposure, to the opening up of being to meaning. This first lesson in the post-Crucifixion drama will lead inexorably to the last: Christ’s self-reading will show the au­dience how it can and must recapitulate, in its own life, the teacher’s lesson: contra nos eps pugnar devem, fraindre devem noz voluntaz


[we must struggle against ourselves; we must break our will]

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The battle, then, was interior and existential; to assume the Passion in one­ self meant undertaking the same kind of suffering as Christ, not literally by an actual, historical Crucifixion, but figuratively, as a recapitulation of the theo­ria of the act—although the verbs “pugnar” and “fraindre” suggest that the effort and suffering were still formidable. The post-Crucifixion drama in the ClermontFerrand text underscores the point that the real meaning of the Pas­sion for Christ lay in its simultaneous duality as literal and figurative gesture. We may see this in the chiasmus by which Christ casts himself as biaxial narrative: “eu soi Jhesus qui passus soi”; both human and anagogic, he is Jesus and passus; the one because the other, the other because the one. Passus supplies the key to understanding the concept of cruciform language as text production. From patior, “to suffer, endure,” passus also bears the con­notation of “consent” or “acquiescence” or “to be in a state of mind.” In short, passus connotes intentionality in the act of suffering, voluntary commitment to this state. That, as we saw in the first chapter, constitutes a primary moti­vation in the path of ascent. But passus was also an adjective formed from the past participle of pando, pandere, with the sense “stretch out, reveal, lay open,” and having the com­ plementary meaning, “spread out to dry.” For a culture in which writing was done on skin that had been stretched out to dry, to which marks would then be added. to reveal truth, the aptness of Christ’s metaphor would have been immediately apparent. The text has him say, in effect, that he acquiesced in the suffering which caused his skin to be stretched out on the cross to reveal him as the Messiah—just as he had predicted in the Conversation with Nico­demus—thereby signing himself as a text written in the flesh in which the Passion could be read and reread. The next act in this drama of return and revelation recapitulates the Last Supper. But whereas the food at the Last Supper symbolized the body and blood of Christ, that is, the sacrificial aspect of the Passion, here the food consumed stresses its redemptive power. Christ and his disciples eat grilled fish and honey, glossed respectively as signs of the Passion as grace and Christ’s divinity revealed by the Passion. Again we find the chiastic dualism where historia and anagogia figure simultaneously as narrative: the fish equates with historia (“sa passion peisons tostaz”) and the honey with theoria (“lo mels signa deitat”). Christ eats to prove that he is flesh and not spirit—as the disciples first thought; but in eating, he also recapitulates the sacrifice of the Passion by taking into himself the symbols of this event, thereby proving its veracity (“veritad”) and potency as a recurrent, repeatable act: Mel e peisons equi menget, en veritad los confirmet: sa passion peisons tostaz et lo mels signa deitat.



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[Honey and fish he eats now; he confirms them as truth: grilled fish signifies his passion, and the honey his divinity.] Several important things occur here. Christ extends the symbolic vocabu­lary by which his Passion may be signified from literal symbols taken directly from the Passion story, for example, the cross and the lance, to include figura­tive symbols, the fish and the honey, of the theoria. Just as he assumed the historia symbols in his flesh as wounds, so here he consumes the theoria sym­bols—incorporates them into his body—to confirm them as truth, that is, to show that he and his symbols are one: both flesh and spirit, literal and figura­tive. The text represents Christ as assuming the significance of his act, thereby making it part of the physical sense of the Passion. This second level of mean­ing demonstrates how the redemptive potency of the Passion might be ex­tended to humanity at large via a ritualized recapitulation of the Passion as a communal, repeatable physical act which transforms the original individual and nonrepeatable physical act of the Crucifixion. In the formulation of Clif­ford Geertz, which we used in chapter 1, the text has Christ demonstrate how the Passion passes from a unique “model of reality,” historically localized in space and time, to a virtual “model for reality,” capable of infinite repetition, like a linguistic formula.38 The third and final act of this recapitulation shows the disciples themselves speaking the language of the Passion; we might also say applying the “model for the Passion” in a variety of ways which all, ultimately, reiterate Christ’s paradigm. As they spread out through the world speaking the language of the Cross: Per toz lenguatges van parlan, las virtuz Crist van annuncian


[By means of all languages they go speaking; they go announcing the power of Christ] they also acquiesce in the suffering occasioned by the worldly opposition aroused by their language. They begin to experience a variety of tortures; to assume in their own flesh the meaning of their words; and, as in Christ’s case, the manner of their pas­sion becomes the sign of their state as successor to and martyr for Christ. Their intention to speak the language of revelation to the world transforms their historical function into a cruciform one, characterized by the biaxial nar­rative mode Christ used in his chiastic formula of revelation: “eu soi Jhesus qui passus soi.” They literally recapitulate Christ’s lesson. In their case, too, speaking the word actualizes a corresponding spiritual valence or potency (“podestad”) whose efficacy may be judged by the response it elicits in the world, where widespread conversions to Christianity occur, and in the cosmic continuum of heaven—hell, where the widespread dissemination of the language of Christ occasions great pain

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for Satan, stirring him to harass the newly won converts and to devise tortures for the disciples (stanzas 121–24). Satan’s actions, cast as oppositional attempts to rupture the trajectory of the apostles’ language from speech to meaning, turn out to be reciprocal responses which ironically confirm the proposition he seeks to contradict. As in the case of Christ, the physical destruction of the word confirms its veracity and com­pletes the meaning it strives to prevent. Within this closed referential world, opposition provides a necessary component transforming historical, monova­lent speech into a fully developed biaxial, polysemous language. In other words, Satan provides the necessary closure, in the form of martyr­ dom, to complete the cruciform configuration of apostolic discourse. The text confidently, even complacently, asserts that Satan’s efforts avail him not at all: far from vanquishing the faithful, his persecution only increases their number. The stanza which makes this claim, quatrain 125, then breaks into a meta­ phoric discourse which shows how the apostles’ language, like a living vine, spreads and flourishes the more it is pruned. This vine, “which is worshipped [adhorad] throughout all the world,” is at once the language of the cross, the tree-cross (“arbor crucis”), Christ, and, finally, the Church. Specific Gospel texts subtend all Passion metaphors. Here the subtext is John 15, “The True Vine,” where Christ says: “I am the true vine, And my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away. And every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more. ............................................................................................. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.”



Here again the language demonstrates the metaphoric intercalation whereby the historical and material may be simultaneously spoken as the spiritual and anagogic. To say that he is the vine, and Christians the branches of that vine, also posits an intentionality of acceptance, of resignation, which we saw to be essential in Christ’s earlier discourses: the acceptance of being “pruned away” or sacrificed to assure the greater productivity of the vine. Obviously, in undertaking to persecute the apostles, Satan does not engage in an independently willed act. He does not speak his own language, but rather


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inadvertently speaks the language of God. He acts for “the vinedresser who is the Father.” So when the Clermont-Ferrand text comments: “What good does it do him [Satan]? He will not conquer,” the assertion cannot be disconfirmed because Satan has been brought into the Christian “linguistic community” as an agent of the very language he seeks to destroy. But the metaphor of the vine reveals more than Satan’s inadvertent dis­course. As the “third act” of Christ’s post-Passion Revelation, it demonstrates how and why the Passion can be, indeed had to be, a language capable of rec­ognition; an archetypal act characterized by recurrence, the foundation of nar­rative; in short, why cruciform semiosis is so prevalent in the Middle Ages. The second part of John 15 advances the concept of “The Hostile World,” the world which refuses to listen to and understand Christ’s words and act (John 15:22–24). It posits yet again the biaxial model of a world divided into the nontranscendent, or essentialist, world of specificity opposed to the fideist world of Being, of striving to become (John 15:5, 10), the world of completed meaning. This opposition asserts itself whenever a passion occurs and an apostle or other christomimētēs sacrifices himself. This and other similar Gospel texts all stress a particular condition of biax­ial discourse as a precondition for the Passion. On the one hand, there is a nontranscendent rhetoric of negativity directed at the Christ figure, particu­larly at his words or acts. Satan and his followers, the agents of the “hostile world,” distinguish them­ selves by their imperfect competence in understanding “the language of truth” and by an equal incompetence in using their own negative rhetoric. They can­ not understand metaphoric speech; for them “a vine is a vine,” and a human, mortal. Similarly, a word is a word; it does not necessarily imply a whole langue, a transcendent discourse (John 15:19–20). Not understanding the pa­role/langue relationship of spirituality figured by Christ, they set out to de­stroy the individual and his parole without seeing that they thereby strengthen the langue of the whole spiritual community by contributing to the vocabu­lary of martyrdom on which reposes the language of spirituality. The rhetoric of affirmation—the language of the spiritual community—re­ quires the presence of the hostile world and its would-be negating rhetoric in order to function. For the transcendent language of the Passion was based upon a double negative: it required accepting—as Christ does in John 15—the neg­ ative predication of the hostile world; it then negated that negation, thereby transforming the predication of the adversary into the positive affirmation of the believer: the cross became the tree of life; tomb, womb; death, rebirth. The concept of the Paraclete or advocate—an affirmative speaker—advanced by Christ in John 15 guaranteed in advance the idea of multiple levels of mean­ing in which Christian life would be a totality of acts, a kind of text, inter­preted by the

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temporal, or existential, consciousness. By definition, then, those who engaged in the rhetoric of affirmation would learn to acquire the competence to read the signs of a passion narrative: to learn that what comes after repeats and confirms what went before. Thus, just as stanza 125 of the Clermont-Ferrand text postulates a prior knowledge of the Gospel (John 15), so the passions of the apostles—recounted in the preceding stanzas—consti­tute a “recollecting forward,” a recapitulation of a past event, Christ’s Passion. This polysemous perspective was encoded in the metaphoric language of stanza 125. The vine, which “per tot es mund es adhorad” (throughout this world is adored), represents the tree-cross; in fact, it is certainly one of the earliest vernacular manifestations of this symbolic language. “Tendrils, leaves and bunches of grapes grow from this Cross. The vine in the Old Testament symbolizes the blessings of the promised Messianic age (Micah 4:4; Zecha­riah 3:10; Psalm 80:9ff.); from John 15, it was looked upon as a metaphor for the Church.”39 The vine-tendril and bunches of grapes also represented eternal life, and the tree-cross “expressed the relationship between Christ’s sacrificial Death and sacrament.” The task of the Clermont-Ferrand Passion, then, was not to retell the bibli­ cal story but to recast it as narrative, or, more specifically, to create a narrative Passion genre capable of illustrating how the biaxial rhetoric of the Gospel could be transposed into the present to teach Christians to read in the world the signs of transcendent meaning just as the Gospels had taught. The Clermont-Ferrand poem carries out the dictates of the Council of Tours (813), later restated in the Council of Arras (1025), to the effect that the mes­sage of the Bible should be announced in the vernacular and not just in Latin so that ordinary people might understand it. In doing this, the Passion incor­porates two ideas of paramount importance to later developments in the trans­formation of the Passion genre from a literal representation of Gospel accounts to a metaphorical model capable of transposition to secular historical legend. First, the Clermont-Ferrand text stressed the idea that Christ’s Passion really did constitute a worldly event, a historical happening which discon­firmed the negativity of history. This lesson made possible the incorporation of historical and secular material as part of the rewriting of the world, one consequence of which we saw in chapter 1, and whose sequel we shall exam­ine shortly. Second, it demonstrated the concept of Christ as Anakephalaiosis, Reca­ pitulation. Just as Christ recapitulated sacred and worldly events in himself, so he could teach, as we saw, how those events might be recapitulated in the lives of his imitators. But we also saw that the Passion cast Christ as a tex­tualized being, with the consequent implication that texts, like the Clermont-Ferrand poem, could be, if not imitationes Christi themselves, then certainly, like Christ, the textualized setting in which the lives of “historical” beings could be revealed as recapitulations of christological events in the same way that the Gospels revealed Christ.


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In sum, the Clermont-Ferrand Passion announces the movement that flour­ ished and grew in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the movement of ver­nacular history-telling. Let us now turn to the first and most powerful of these historical legends, the legend of Charlemagne, to see how it incorporated this model into one of its earliest and most enduring forms. The Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi We saw at the beginning of this chapter the compelling iconographic program of cruciform semiosis coupled with the augmentative aesthetic by which the designers of the Charlemagne window at Chartres, and its predecessor at Saint Denis, treated the material of the Charlemagne legend. Within the precincts of Saint Denis or of Notre Dame de Chartres, one can understand that the Charlemagne window might well serve such an aesthetic. But how to explain the obvious ease with which the iconographic program of the window, based upon late eleventh-century and early twelfth-century texts dealing with the legend of Charlemagne, lent itself to such treatment? Clearly, the artists responsible must have perceived something in the original texts that authorized their interpretation. The work on which the majority of the Chartrain Charlemagne window’s panels are based—the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi—enjoyed enor­mous popularity in the Middle Ages. It exists today in a far greater number of manuscripts than the (to us) better-known Chanson de Roland: more than a hundred manuscripts of the Historia have been inventoried as opposed to a half-dozen for the Roland. It was widely translated into other languages, in­cluding Old French, and became the basis for a part of the official history of France, Les Grandes Chroniques de France.41 The last fact especially would lead us to believe that the Historia might have been perceived primarily as an epic of national conquest and aggrandize­ment in which the principal roles would have been played by secular heroes fighting for the glory of God, to be sure, but even more for personal and na­tional honor. Earlier critics often perceived the Chanson de Roland from this perspective.42 The Historia certainly cannot be characterized as modest in its claims for the territorial imperative of the Christian imperium entrusted to Charle­magne. And yet, too little attention has been paid to the fact. that Christian conquest, both in this text and in the chansons de geste in general, emphasizes not the physical and historical details of imperial aggrandizement, so much as a hermeneutics of the world-asword, a recovery of the meaning invested in the land by divine creation, but lost to Christianity by the confusion of mean­ing occasioned by the postlapsarian state symbolized by the Tower of Babel. Very often the beginnings of chansons de geste stress the loss or threatened loss of real or putative Christian territory to the “Saracens,” portrayed as forces of

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chaos, that is, as the original condition of the world which God’s word, in Genesis, overcame by order, which is to say, by the imposition of divine language. The beginning of the Historia Karoli Magni could not be more instructive from this point of view. We find, in fact, two beginnings: one referring to the purpose of the work itself, the other to the matter. Each out­lines a particular hermeneutics of the world-as-word. The prologue casts the Historia as an epistolary account written by an eye­ witness, the same Turpin whom we saw elevated to the status of a saint along­ side Charlemagne and placed in a complementary position to Pope Leo III on the Charlemagne reliquary of Frederick II, dedicated in 1215. “Turpin’s” letter claims to be directed to Leobrand, dean of Aix-la-Chapelle, shortly after the events depicted, and thus intended for the “imperial archives” at Aix. Claim­ing to be an eyewitness to the fourteen-year campaign of Charlemagne in Spain, “Turpin” says that he is responding to the request of Leobrand and thus will write about the “crowning glory of the miraculous deeds” accomplished by “our most renowned Emperor Charlemagne” when he liberated “Galicia and Spain from the power of the Saracens.” He seeks to reveal the good news of Charles’s deeds, for “the mighty works which the king accomplished in Spain have never been sufficiently revealed, in their full meaning, by any chronicle.” 43 This fictionalized epistolary frame for the Historia, often denounced as an­ other example of crude medieval forgery, provides an important clue to the intentionality of the work. The vocabulary used by “Turpin” in the prologue, and particularly in the passage just quoted, suggests an important conflation of word and deed, text and subtext. In ecclesiastical Latin, magnolia means both “mighty works” and “mighty words.” And it is the magnolia, never fully elucidated, that “Turpin’s” text claims to “invent” or reveal to the world. The epistolary form was not neutral in the medieval Christian context. From the prologue to Paul’s first letter, the epistle acquired the status of teach­ing Christians to read the transcendent signs of God in the world, that is, to show them how the meaning of the Gospel functioned in the world to change their lives. The epistle was, in Paul’s words, the Evangelium Dei, “the Good News of God”; Evangelium also denoted the Gospel. It sought, just as the Clermont-Ferrand poem portrayed Christ as doing, to show how one could read the Evangelium Dei in the events of the world. The author of the epistle acquired the status of the homo eruditus by virtue of the fact that he strove to read and reveal (“invenio”) theoria in historia. The formulation of the first sentence of Paul’s exordium in the Epistle to the Ro­mans recasts the chiasmus used by Christ to represent himself as biaxial nar­rative in the Clermont-Ferrand poem—”eu soi Jhesus qui passus soi”—to ap­ply the same integration of historic and anagogic duality to the act of rewriting human history. The historical person becomes an apostle and servant of Christ by virtue of having


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been selected to write the word/world: “Paulus, servus Iesu Christi, vocatus Apostolus, segregatus in Evangelium Dei (Rom. 1:1). The Evangelium Dei confers authority on its author and confirms his status as apostle. Again, the authority derives from the text’s ability to recapitulate, like Christ, historia and theoria so that event may be understood through and in the Word. The exordium of the Historia Karoli Magni accomplishes the same task by literally inventing “Turpin” as a perfectly symmetrical being whose person contains the biaxial valence of historia and theoria to be repeated in the work introduced by the exordium. In short, the prologue seeks to establish a coex­tensiveness of text and being in the person and work of Turpin similar to that found in the Gospels or the epistles of the apostles. Just as Paul’s titles, “servus” and “Apostolus,” seem credible because he has been “segregatus in Evangelium Dei” (specially chosen to preach the Good News), so Turpin’s being, the identity announced to the world by the prologue, includes his special relationship to the evangelium of Charlemagne’s magno­lia. Thus he is styled—or putatively styles himself, in the manner of the epistles—”Tulpinus Dei gratia Remensis archiepiscopus ac sedulus trium­phalis Karoli Magni in expeditione Hispanie socius Leobrando Aquisgranensi decano salutem in Christo” (Turpin, by the grace of God Archbishop of Rheims and zealous companion in the triumph of Charlemagne in the Spanish expedition, to Leobrand, Dean of Aix-la-Chapelle, greetings in Christ). Turpin thus bases the authority of the Historia in his own person, inscribing the events first of all in himself, then in the text. In this sense, he is the reca­ pitulation of the events to be described and hence doubly the author/au­thority.44 The first symmetrical relationship in “Turpin” connects the Historia which he has written to that which he lived and witnessed (“que propriis ocu­lis intuitus sum XIII annis Hispaniam perambulans…).” The exordium also asserts an anagogic equivalence between Turpin’s life and his text. Just as he repeats in his authorial persona the events which he experienced as “sedulus triumphalis Karoli Magni in expeditione Hispanie so­cius,” so his persona as interpreter or overseer of the theoria—the doctrinal elaboration of the historical events—reiterates his condition as “Remensis archiepiscopus” and correspondent of the dean of Charlemagne’s own cathe­dral at Aix. Episcopus, we recall, meant “overseer,” and archiepiscopus, a still higher form of overseer. But these associations do not simply assert a general­ized ecclesiastical authority. They also formulate an important intentional valence of the work. The see over which “Turpin” presides, Rheims, was an originary site for the divine conjunction of Church and monarchy in Frankish history. Like Golgo­tha, it conjoined human history and divine revelation. For it was at Rheims, according to a Carolingian legend most probably invented by another arch­bishop of Rheims, Hincmar, a ninth-century contemporary of Eriugena, that God revealed the divine

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Figure 31. “Charlemagne’s dream of Saint James.” The emperor asleep in his Palatine Chapel of Aix-la-Chapelle visited by Saint James. Codex Calixtinus. Vat. Lib. MS Lat. 263, fol. 235. mission of the Franks by sending a dove bearing a phial of holy oil from heaven to anoint the brow of Clovis when he was si­multaneously baptized and sacralized as the first Christian king of the Franks. That oil continued to be used for Clovis’s successors and established Rheims as the place where Frankish monarchs were anointed and crowned. The arch­bishop of Rheims naturally became the principal officiant at the sacre.45 Similarly, “Turpin” associates himself with the dean of Aix-la-Chapelle. We know, from the previous chapter, the resonance of Aix for the legend of Char­lemagne. Aix and Rheims, then, were the loci whence emanated the historia of Charlemagne as a sacred legend. By inscribing both places in his person, the exordium establishes “Turpin” as an authority for the theoria of “his” text. In effect, the exordium establishes an author who recapitulates in his own person the biaxial symmetry of the work to come. It provides, at the outset, an icon of the reading we must give to the text that follows, a dual reading similar to the one given by Christ in interpreting the events of his historia in the last part of the Clermont-Ferrand Passion. We grasp the nature of this pairing, as well as the biaxial structure of the narrative, by observing how manuscript paintings transposed the narrative into visual terms. Although the illumination here reproduced (fig. 31) dates from a fourteenth century version of the Codex Calixtinus or Liber Sancti Jacobi, it’s a faithful rendering of the twelfth-century text, with the exception—resulting from the convention for portraying visions in medieval art—that Charlemagne appears sleeping


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in the illumination, whereas the text specifies that he was wake, studying the miraculous portents that illuminated the heavens, at the moment when Saint James appeared to him. The illumination renders the hermeneutic imperative of the scene quite dramatically. Vertically dominant slightly to stage right of center (that is, Christ’s right, the space occupied by the celestial elect on a tympanum), Saint James adheres to the script of the Historia by pointing to the profusion of stars in the Milky Way. This sign, he tells Charlemagne, will lead him directly to the tomb of Saint James in Compostella. It is the divine portent—reinforced by the vision of James himself—binding Charles to this crusade. The triangular text-band that slants vertically to a peak from each tower of Charlemagne’s palace (“Aquisgranum” in the legend) links the starry portent to Charlemagne’s earthly empire. The peaked band of text, framing as it does the vertical figure of Saint James and his upward pointing index finger, visually unites the two poles of Charlemagne’s epic action—Aix-la-Chapelle and Compostella. At the same time, Saint James holds a fluttering banderole in his left hand that contains a visual representation of the divine commands that he conveys orally to the emperor. Together, these iconic elements constitute signs that the recumbent Charlemagne must read and interpret. In the Vatican illumination, the Milky Way unfurls across the top of the frame to connect the towers of Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel in Aix with those of Saint James’ Cathedral in Compostella, each portrayed on the edge of the painting. Here is where we see how the astute use of symbols in manuscript illumination can enrich the meaning of conventional gestures. If Saint James’ signaling of the Milky Way portent in figure 31 reminds us of the text in the Historia, that same gesture in the Vatican Codex Calixtinus articulates the significance of the message even beyond the original text. The upper register of the Vatican image glosses the meaning of the starry constellation, which encompasses all of Europe from the Frisian Sea in the north down to Galicia, “where the body of the blessed James at that time lay unknown and hidden.” This celestial banner confers on Charlemagne’s terrestrial imperium the aura of divine destiny. Charlemagne in Aix, Saint James representing Compostella, the twin poles of the epic action are united by the starry constellation at the top of the image. By evoking the poles of action and, by implication, the countries in Charlemagne’s empire, the image conveys the divine intention that Galicia, where Saint James’s tomb lay, and, by extension, all of Spain, be added to the list. A banderole that St James holds in his left hand that he thrusts toward the emperor’s face constitutes the new iconic element the Vatican image brings to the scene. This time, the text contains the actual words of the divine command. Once again we have a kind of mise-en-abyme, a perspectival rendering of icons of the text within the text. In essence, the verbal command spells out what the visual scene has

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just shown, namely, that Charlemagne extend God’s dominion over Spain in order to recover the tomb of Saint James: so that all the people who live between one sea and the other, and in other regions, will be able to go on Pilgrimages, after you, to entreat Our Lord’s pardon for their sins, and then, from your time to the end of the world, be able to recount the miracles that Our Lord accomplishes for his friends.47 We pick up the story in medias res, as it were, although the res is not the finite one of our story, but the soteriological res of Salvation history. Charlemagne must read the signs, carry out the instructions, and create a pilgrimage route so that others after him may continue to perpetuate the Christian historia. Saint James commands Charlemagne to leave at once for Spain and to be assured that he, James, would aid Charlemagne in all peril and see to it that Christ reserve for the emperor a lasting crown in Paradise. This apparition occurred three times to “Charlemagne, the soldier of Christ.” By the terms “beatus Karolus Magnus” and “Christi Miles, Karolus Mag­ nus,” the double valence of Charlemagne as a figure operating on the historic and anagogic plane—the situation of Mary, the apostles, and Jesus in the Pas­ sion—becomes clearly established. Similarly, by the end of the introduction, the historic/anagogic pairing of Charlemagne and Saint James naturally cor­relates the simultaneous narrative levels of historia and theoria that will con­tinue to function within the story proper, even at less literal moments of celes­tial and historical conjunction. Still, the text does not leave things to chance. This pairing receives regular reinforcement throughout the work, notably after the conquest of Galicia when the biaxial trinity—Christ, Saint James, and Charlemagne—receives special emphasis: “And so Galicia, having been deliv­ered from the Saracens by the power of Christ and Saint James, and with the help of Charlemagne, stands firm in the true faith to this very day.”48 The pairing of Saint James and Charlemagne, coupled with the theme of tomb discovery, functions in yet another way at the beginning of the work. We have already seen the transference between Charlemagne and his legend and the Christ mythos, particularly as regards the Holy Sepulchre. Now the reit­erated emphasis placed upon the dishonor suffered by Saint James’s tomb, in the first chapter of the Historia, particularly upon its unknown whereabouts, repeats the medieval legend of the condition of Christ’s tomb in the early fourth century, and, to a lesser extent, at diverse other moments when the tomb seemed to have been “lost” to the West, particularly in the early elev­enth century when the “Saracens” destroyed the church/monument that pro­tected it. The Romans had destroyed the sacred places of Jerusalem, and particularlyChrist’s sepulchre, according to early Christian legends. Constantine,


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acting upon the instructions of his mother, to whom the whereabouts of the tomb had been revealed in a divine vision, discovered the site and constructed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over it. In the second decade of the eleventh century, a new wave of pagan oppressors, led by the caliph Hakin, according to the accounts of various contemporary chronicles, destroyed the church that Constantine had built. Then, thanks to the miraculous intercession of the ca­liph’s mother—a closet Christian—the sepulchre was again made available to Christian pilgrims, and a new church constructed over it, replacing Constan­tine’s original edifice.49 Rodolphus Glaber reported that when the Saracens had tried to destroy the edicule surrounding and protecting Christ’s sepulchre, they had not been able to damage it, let alone destroy it. An analogous myth existed regarding Saint James’s tomb. A firm article of faith surrounding the shrine of Saint James at Compostela held that the entire body of the saint lay there, and that claims by other churches to possess Jacoban relics had to be false because no human ever succeeded in displacing the body from the tomb, where it lies miraculously fixed.50 These and other details suggest that the Historia sought, as one of its raisons d’être, to establish Saint James in the mouvance of the Christ mythos so that his shrine would authoritatively represent the Galician equivalent of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem: an object of veneration and the goal of a major pilgrim­age. Similarly, Charlemagne, “the strong arm of God,” received the same role vis-à-vis Spain that Constantine played in Palestine, or, more accurately speaking—since we have seen that Constantine’s role in the Holy Land grad­ually blended into the Charlemagne legend during the tenth and eleventh cen­turies—Charlemagne’s mythos as liberator/protector of the Holy Sepulchre and other sites in Palestine here underwent extension to cover the cult of Saint James of Compostela. Note the coincidence of narrative isotopies in the two cases. In both in­stances it is a question of tombs of important sacred figures which serve as important theophanic sites revealing divine intentionality and thus perpetu­ating the cult in the world. The tombs suffered oblivion—not obliteration—but are reinvented by a miles Christi—Charlemagne or Constantine—with the help of divine revelation. The invention of the tombs coincides with the liberation of the land where they lie by the same miles Christi, who is also an emperor and thus has the temporal power to govern the land. The invention of the tombs and the liberation of the land give way to embellishment of the sites with “the splendor of buildings” and the opening of the sites to worship by pilgrims. By the eleventh century, the emperor in each case is the same: Charlemagne. The Historia, however, adds another dimension of sacred drama to the narrative by investing the recovery of the sacred site with a reiteration of the Passion in the here and now of the narrative: Roland’s story will con­tribute a special dimension of contemporary sacred history to the Galician pilgrimage that Charlemagne’s intervention opened up to Western Christians, as we shall see shortly.

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One final aspect of the anagogic formulation in the Historia concerns the valence of Compostela as a mythic site. We have seen the reciprocal semiotic exchange between a legendary figure such as Charlemagne and the site asso­ ciated with him. Aix-la-Chapelle signified for the Ottonians and their subjects because of the prestige it had acquired as Charlemagne’s capital and tomb site. But Charlemagne’s legendary stature, in its turn, grew to ever greater propor­tions because of the reputation of Aix as a city whose splendid buildings and treasures consciously evoked Rome and Jerusalem.51 Compostela did not have the same universal resonance, initially. The His­toria utilized transference of a rather blatant sort to establish the identity of the Galician city as a European religious center on the same order, for instance, as Rome and Aix-la-Chapelle. Thanks to this exigency, we have a marvelous insight into the ritual power of cruciform semiosis. At the end of chapter 19, situated after the general conquest of Spain but before the events at Roncevaux, the Historia recounts the steps taken by Char­lemagne to fulfill the divine charge given him at the beginning of the work: to recover the tomb of Saint James and affirm the Christian faith in Spain and Galicia. Charlemagne exceeds the letter of the command, however, for he makes Compostela and the church of Saint James the religious center of the whole territory. Convening a council at Compostela, Charles bids the ecclesi­astical and secular hierarchy to attend—archbishops and bishops, the king and princes of Spain—so that they might swear allegiance to the archbishop of Compostela. They also swear to recognize Compostela as an apostolic see and that, in consequence, all high office, both secular and ecclesiastical, would be confirmed and invested in the Church of Saint James. “Turpin” intervenes to assert that he personally dedicated the newly constructed church and main altar to Saint James at the request of Charlemagne. At this point the text delivers an interesting lesson on the sacred valence of apostolic tomb sites. It argues that Compostela is one of the three principal sees of the Christian church, the other two being Ephesus and Rome. These three cities can claim primacy because their Christian community was founded by and their main church contains the body of one of the three apostles supposedly most intimate with Christ: Saint Peter, Saint John, and Saint James the Great. Those places where the apostles closest to Christ la­bored to preach the Word and where they were martyred or entombed must, we are told, be of greater religious importance than sites where these things did not happen. We obviously have to do here with the whole principle of translatio, but even more with the notion of recapitulation. Those disciples closest to Christ would naturally recapitulate more perfectly in their beings His Being since they enjoyed the special privilege of direct and intimate revelation. They would also, by virtue of the same literal and figurative proximity to the Logos, recapitulate Christ’s own pastorate more accurately in their own apostolate.


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We have seen, however, that the power of Christ as Anakephalaiosis derived from the fact that the Passion resumes and reverses the Fall, thereby trans­forming the rhetoric of negativity to which the Fall had condemned human history into the affirmative rhetoric of Salvation history. On this logic, the works accomplished by the three key apostles in their sees would figure less prominently in explaining the transference of christological virtue to these sites than their deaths, seen as recapitulations of Christ’s own. But the influence is not one-sided. These apostolic passions increase the significance of the primordial events they reiterate by demonstrating their continued power to make meaning; in short, by expanding their historic, anagogic, and semiotic connotations: In all the world, there are three principal Sees and Churches honored above all others: namely, Rome, Galicia [Compostela], and Ephesus. This is not without rea­son, for just as [Christ] chose, above all the others, the principal Apostles, Saint Peter, Saint James, and Saint John, to whom he revealed fully his innermost secrets, as the Gospels show, so did he wish to assure that their Sees would be honored above all others, and for that reason they are called the principal Sees; for just as these three Apostles had more grace and worth than the others, so should the places where they preached and where their bodies repose. The Church of Rome is called the first; for Saint Peter, the Prince of Apostles, dedicated it by his preaching and sacralized it by the blood of his Passion and tomb. Compostela is rightly called the second See because the Blessed James, who stood out greater among the other Apostles, preeminent in dignity, honor, and rank after Saint Peter, and who was the first crowned in heaven by martyrdom, fortified it by his predication, then consecrated it with his most sacred sepulchre, and hal­lows it by miracles and does not cease to enrich it by incessant favors. The third is that of Ephesus, where Saint John the Evangelist wrote his gospel: In principio erat uerbum, and the Apocalypse in which he reveals the secrets of heaven; Saint John who had so much grace with Christ that he enjoyed the privilege of his love above all the others. These three churches should receive so much honor and dignity that judgments, whether divine or human, should not be made in the other churches throughout the world, but rather be made and defended in these three churches alone.52

The main anagogic thrust of the Historia, then, develops from the passion of Saint James. But—and this is of crucial importance—the Historia is not hagiography; it is not the story of Saint James’s passion., It is rather historia, commemoration of an event which could not exist without this passion, but which constitutes an extension of its consequences rather than the passion itself.

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Roland and the Mise-en-Abyme of the Passion In essence, the Historia reveals to the world the advent in “contemporary” human history of the tomb of Saint James and the consequences of this reve­lation for the extension of Christian governance into a land newly restored to “the Law.” This sounds, perhaps, like a relatively simple matter. But we should not overlook the real problems the author faced in undertaking such a task. To accomplish it in a spectacular manner required finding a historical dimension to the story that could rival the interest and significance of the anagogic myth of Saint James. In fact, we discover that in seeking to create a new historical myth, the author did not necessarily discard or ignore the sa­cred material at his disposal, that is, choose not to tell the story of Saint James’s passion—for that, as we have seen, subtends the work from the begin­ning. Rather, he follows the lead of the councils and the example of the Clermont-Ferrand Passion by telling a new, historically based story through the Passion metaphor. By his choice of the reconquest of Spain as the historical framework for this story, the author hit upon a project grandiose enough to assure that the histor­ ical dimension would not be eclipsed by the anagogic. Furthermore, the his­torical material provided an undeniably oppositional setting—”the Hostile World” element—which we saw to be requisite for a passion. What remained to be developed, however, was a group of human actors who could rival in significance the apostles who originally recapitulated the Passion. More to the point, a manner had to be found to permit these protagonists to take upon themselves the narrative project in the same manner that Christ and the apostles assumed their historical roles. In other words, the hermeneu­tics of the word/world had to be adapted to the historical setting. We have seen that Turpin and Charlemagne so present themselves in this manner from the beginning of the work. In the exordium, Turpin assumes the role of partici­pant, witness, and author that Saint John played in Christ’s passion. Like Saint John in the Gospel and in Revelation—which the Historia, in accord with contemporary belief, ascribes to him—Turpin “sees and bears witness.” Charlemagne, too, intuits and assumes into his being the project ordained by God. Roland, however, did not possess a clearly defined sacred valence prior to the late eleventh century, just as Compostela did not enjoy the authoritative prominence in the hierarchy of apostolic sees ascribed to it by the Historia prior to that period. And just as the valence of Compostela received reinforce­ment from its prominent associations with Ephesus and Rome in the text, so the matrix of Roland’s spiritual role derives from his prominent textual asso­ciation with Charlemagne, Turpin, and, by extension, Saint James, for whom he will ultimately stand as recapitulation. Although this Roland, like Saint James’s tomb, must be invented and re­vealed to the world, the Historia does not simply rely on association to realize the goal.


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Roland willingly predicates his own valence as miles Christi and then fulfills it by word and deed. Like Turpin and Charlemagne, he defines himself as exemplary being in a manner that transforms historia by means of a theoria predicated on the passion model, which he voluntarily articulates and as­sumes. By looking briefly at the principal passages in which he figures, we may understand the sacralization of Roland that occurs at Roncevaux and which has proved too difficult to explain from the sole perspective of the Oxford Roland. The Historia details the Frankish hero’s spiritual ‘progress toward theosis and the rank of “Blessed” which it and the Guide du Merin confer upon him.53 To understand how Roland figures as a recapitulation of Christ, or more immediately, Saint James, we must recognize the basically syllogistic struc­ture of the work. The prologue and introduction present the theme and part of the rhetorical strategy for its realization. The intervention at the end of chap­ter 19, discussed above, further develops the concept of the passion metaphor as central to the claims made for Compostela and Saint James. However, this elaboration occurs after the ostensible goal of the work has been realized. Through Saint James, God has asked Charlemagne to free the apostolic tomb and establish Compostela as a pilgrimage site. At the end of chapter 19 all of this has been achieved; and yet the intervention introduces a new dimension to the argument by specifically positing the idea that sacralization of being and site correlates with exemplary sacrifice. By introducing such a concept at this stage, the intervention—like the be­ ginning of the work—sets up premises whose conclusion has not yet been reached. A passion model has been evoked but not yet fully realized. Compos­tela has been liberated, but as a dead metaphor; the archetypal passion that made it sacred to begin with has not been repeated, and therefore its power to continue to make meaning—in short, its potency as a sacred site in the here and now—has not been demonstrated. To prove that it was both a model of and a model for reality, it had to be resacralized by a repetition, in the histori­cal present, of the hallowing by predication and martyred blood which the intervention stresses so prominently, not once, but three times. And this ex­emplary sacrifice had to be elective, consciously assumed by a homo eruditus. As a matter of fact, the text lays the groundwork for the emergence of Ro­land as self-elected martyr-designate during the account of the conquest of Spain prior to the end of chapter 19. It does so in two ways. First, by a contex­tual evocation of miraculous prefigurations of a passion to come; and second, by the emergence of Roland as a hero who differentiates himself from the col­lectivity by an agonistic assertion of individuality. Instead of simply defending the Word, he intellects and preaches it, thereby inscribing it in his persona. His, then, is the active fate of the predicator as opposed to the collective faith of the multitude. His being is literally his story, or history; theirs, hearsay.

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During Charlemagne’s first two campaigns, the heroes who die in battle first receive miraculous tokens of impending immortality when, during the night before the battles, their lances take root in the earth and burst into flower in the morning. This happens not once, but three times. The reiterated miracle invokes an Old Testament event, the flowering of Aaron’s rod (Numbers 17:16–26), understood in medieval tropology as a figural tree-cross and thus a prefiguration of the Incarnation and Passion.54 The text underlines the Passion context of the miracle of the flowering lances by stressing that the plain where Charlemagne met the Saracen king Aigoland was the site of the martyrdom and burial of Saints Facundus and Primitivus and that later on Charlemagne built a spacious and beautiful church (“basilica ingens et optima fabricatur”) in their honor where their bod­ies repose. As a further, if not overly subtle, indication that the martyrdom of the Frankish soldiers prefigures the more significant passion of Roland still to come, the text cites by name only one of the forty thousand Christians whose death in the first battle was signified by the flowering lances: “dux Milo, Ro­tolandi genitor” (Duke Milo, Roland’s father).55 Even though the major battles of the initial campaigns possess an undeni­able importance, they do not stand out as particularly memorable, with the exception of the miracles they occasion. Nor, more importantly, do they in themselves bring about the conquest of Spain, either in the first or final in­stance. Only Roland’s intervention enables Charlemagne to accomplish that goal. The final phase of the conquest turns much more emphatically upon two major narrative sequences, the first occurring prior to the intervention at the end of chapter 19, and the second taking up chapters 21–26. The first of these sequences depicts the confrontation between the Saracen giant Ferracutus and Roland. It is the single event securing the liberation of the tomb of Saint James and the establishment of Compostela—at least within the context of the work—as the third principal apostolic see of Christendom. Roland achieves this victory single-handedly, thereby acquiring a sacred aura no other hero except Charlemagne can claim. As we shall see in a moment, he achieves this victory more by predication than by martial feats, or at least his predication occupies a more prominent role in the narrative than does the fighting. It constitutes the first act of his recapitulative drama: the stage of speaking the language of Christ that differentiates the sacral victim, showing his ability and willingness to implement the affirmative rhetoric of the Cross in his own sacrifice. The second sequence, consisting of the Betrayal of Ganelon and the Battle of Roncevaux, completes the sacred drama by enlarging the concept of “the Hostile World” to include not only those natural enemies by birth, the unbe­lievers, but also the unnatural enemies—which medieval typology empha­sized as a central part of Christ’s Passion—the apostates among one’s own people who reject the power of the Word and actively seek its undoing.


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The combat with Ferracutus is the most detailed single combat of the whole Historia, but the narrative devotes much more space to a curious catechism between Roland and the Saracen than to their martial exchange, which, inci­ dentally, Roland wins only after and as a result of their dialogue. The signifi­cance of the sequence for the story as a whole may be adduced not only from the text of the Historia, where it takes up more space than any other single narrative incident except its sequel, the Battle of Roncevaux itself, but also from the iconographic program of the Charlemagne window at Chartres, which devotes two panels to it (fig. 23, panels 16–17). Roland enters this combat electively after Ferracutus has defeated and im­ prisoned some of the other peers of France. Seeing that no other heroes come forward to continue so unequal a combat, Roland, like David, willingly seeks this combat, thereby taking upon himself the project ordained by God. Al­though the fate of the other heroes does not befall Roland, he experiences such great difficulty in the combat that after a day and a half nothing decisive has occurred. Clearly, victory on either side cannot be gained simply by material means. At this point, the narrative shifts from a direct descriptive approach to a discourse of indirection. It introduces typological language evoking the rheto­ric of affirmation by means of references to biblical prefigurations of the Pas­sion. This shift in mode reveals yet another facet of cruciform rhetoric: its language of indirection appears more real and immediate than that of direct, historical description because it is far more interesting. Alleging great fatigue, Ferracutus requests a truce in order to take a nap. In an apparent gesture of compassion, Roland brings him one of the stones— to which the text has made several cryptic references—littering the battlefield for him to use as a pillow. The stone-as-pillow motif derives from Genesis 28, where Jacob, sleeping with his head on a stone, experiences a theophanic vi­sion in which Yahweh reveals his and his family’s destiny as the chosen of God and says that the place where Jacob lies sleeping is “Bethel, the house of God and the Gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:17). Upon awakening from his dream, Jacob consecrates the stone as an altar: he “took the stone he had used for his pillow, and set it up as a monument, pouring oil over the top of it” (Genesis 28:18). In medieval typology “God’s appearance to Jacob…was related to Christ’s Ascension,”56 and the subsequent nocturnal struggle with the angel—which Genesis 35 suggests also occurred at Bethel—prefigured Christ’s “wrestling with death and defeating it on the cross.”57 By the same typological associa­tion, the David and Goliath motif implicit in the confrontation between Ro­land and Ferracutus was also interpreted as prefiguring “Christ’s victory on the Cross over the enemy, that is, death and Satan.”58 Unlike Jacob, Ferracutus has his vision of the celestial order and Salvation history after he awakens, and it will be Roland who fulfills the pastoral role of predication; and, finally, although Ferracutus

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will be sacrificed on the altar stone Roland fetched for his pillow, that initial sacrifice only serves to prepare for Roland’s own immola­tion. The actual dialogue between Roland and Ferracutus, which occurs when the giant awakens, places us literally and figuratively within the Passion context. Ferracutus begins to question Roland about his country and the religious be­liefs that would lead him to elect so unequal a combat. In response, Roland takes Ferracutus step-by-step over the principal mysteries (cf. the Christian credo). The giant shows repeated astonishment over each new revelation. But the progressive amazement by which the giant responds to Roland’s catalogue of wonders reaches an absolute crescendo of disbelief over the matter of the Passion and Resurrection: “Roland! Roland! Why do you tell me such crazy things? It cannot be that a man, once dead, can come back to life.” — “Ferracutus, I tell you that the Son of God did not come back to life alone, but that all men who have been born since the begin­ning of the world and will be until the end of the world, will be resuscitated on the day of judgment before the throne of majesty of Jesus Christ…and he himself who resuscitated several dead men before his Passion, could in no way be considered as dead; for death flees before him, and at the sound of his voice and at his command­ment the dead will revive in great crowds.”59

Resurrection, the Passion and its consequences, this ultimate mystery cap­ tures Ferracutus’s imagination, illustrating graphically for the Christian audi­ ence the whole transcendent dimension of spirituality which the “enemy” lacked. The triumph over death cannot even be conceived, apparently, outside the context of the Christian faith. Since the debate was written by a Christian author for a Christian audience, this was the message which they, like the Saracen giant, must hear again as though for the first time to recapture the full awe of its mystery. Cruciform semiosis functions here to render the fact of the Passion an uncommon lesson for everyday life: “Ferracutus, I tell you that the Son of God did not come back to life alone…” (non solum, inquit Rotolan­dus, Dei filius a mortuis resurrexit, verum etiam omnes homines qui fuere ab inicio usque ad finem sunt resurgendi ante eius tribunal…). These questions do not simply suggest humorous incredulity by a nonbe­ liever in the face of the basic tenets of Christianity. They perform an important narrative function and evoke an impeccable scriptural subtext, as we shall see in a moment. Irrupting at this crucial moment so that they cannot be overlooked, they demonstrate how the biaxial narrative attests the contradic­tory impulse of historia, its dimension of story-as-parable, reminding the au­dience that Scripture concealed as well as revealed meaning. The agonistic narrative model propounded by Christ in the Gospels pur­ posed an order of understanding based on faith and effort. As Eriugena’s


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inter­pretation of the Wise and Foolish Virgins made clear—or Matthew 6:22– 23—only by struggling with an oblique text could the believer work out a meaning that would be enlightening, and one that would reveal his/her status within the religio-political microcosm. Not just explanation—of the naive, Ferracu­tus variety—but faith and understanding were required to join with labor in order for the “reader” to discover meaning. The paradox of the historiated Scripture had been profoundly stated in the quotation of Psalm 78:2 in Mat­thew 13:35: “I will speak to you in parables and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.” The naive interlocutor like Ferracutus underlines the oblique status of his­ toria as text; its quality as parable requiring the light of theoria to clarify it. Scripture provided a model for the naive interlocutor. In John 3, we find a report of a long conversation between Jesus and a man named Nicodemus. Among other things in this exchange, we find that it permits Christ himself to provide the interpretive link between historia and theoria when he points out the necessity for what comes later to explain and confirm what went be­fore. It is a theory of narrative based upon repetition, recurrence, and return; a theory which valorizes the biaxial mode as basic for representing the Christian Platonic notion that material existence can be understood only in terms of spiritual origin and end. Nicodemus poses questions which reflect the human perspective, grounded in the logic of the material and literal. “How can a grown man be born? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Christ responds in a way that stresses another, higher perspective beyond the realm of materiality. “I tell you most solemnly unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Christ’s assertions and Nicode­mus’s questions stress repetition; they are in fact repetitious: “I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit; he cannot enter the kingdom of God…” “How can that be possible?” asked Nicodemus. The formal repetition simply underlines the main business of the conversa­ tion: predicating repetition as an existential category. In John 3:13–15, Christ predicts his own Passion in metaphoric terms as simultaneously a reiteration and revelation of the bronze serpent in Numbers 21:9.60 Repetition thus be­came a central characteristic of the Passion, or rather of its interpretive po­tency, and thus a major factor in the Christian view of world-as-word. The Passion as repetition, as well as repetitions of the Passion, required interpre­tation since the repeated action was a figurative rather than a literal iteration of the primordial action: and the Son of man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.

[John 3:13–15]

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It was the poet or witness/narrator who predicated the interpretation of an act as a Passion, just as Christ, in his discourse, equated the bronze serpent and his own Passion. In this passage and in 3:17–21, John made Christ the authority for the biaxial narrative model, while at the same time demonstrat­ing how the two levels work to establish an ironic vision; a view of the mun­dane overturned and extended by the power of the spiritual and ineffable. The narrative thereby represents the interiorization of knowledge, its trans­ formation into existential experience, that movement from matter to spirit traced by Eriugena which postulated a reversal of the purely worldly meanings. What appeared to be enlightenment from the viewpoint of the historical nar­rative axis turned out to have been darkness, failure of illumination, as one penetrated the previously murky reaches of the second level, leading upward toward theosis. The Conversation with Nicodemus ends with Christ’s reference to works as a grammar of intention: “Everybody who does wrong / hates the light and avoids it, / for fear his actions shall be exposed; but the man who lives by the truth / comes out into the light, / so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God” (John 3:20–21). Narrated acts, then, must have two levels: the first establishing them as acts-in-the-world, and a second, figurative level confirming their intentionality as meaningful acts which illumine and reveal the transition from the historical plane to the anagogic: “Qui autem facit veritatem, venit ad lucem, ut manifestentur opera eius, quia in Deo sunt facta.” All narrative of such acts must contain, within the structure of mean­ing, this intentional standpoint. In the conversation between Roland and Ferracutus, we find all these ele­ments. Ferracutus questions Roland, just as Nicodemus questioned Christ; the same naive literality that characterized Nicodemus’s questions may be seen in those of the Saracen giant, including the awed incredulity in the face of the Christian mysteries. More to the point, the dialogue with Ferracutus permits Roland, like Christ in the Conversation with Nicodemus, to provide the in­terpretive link between historia and theoria; as in the first instance, we find the expected stress on repetition and recurrence, and once again with specific reference to the story in progress. We must remember that Roland speaks at two levels: ostensibly to. Ferra­cutus, to whom he repeats the whole concept of Salvation history in a way that proves him to be a homo eruditus, that is, someone who has engaged in the spiritual path of ascent to intellect, as principles of being, the Christian doctrine; at the same time, he addresses the audience of the era, showing how the Passion story can inform familiar, historical situations. In other words, Roland does not simply explain Christianity to Ferracutus in a manner that the audience might find amusing; he literally repeats the lesson of Christ in the Conversation with Nicodemus: that material existence can be understood only in terms of spiritual origin and end. The text of the dialogue specifically makes the Passion the theoria of the Historia, and espe­cially of the


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Historia Rotholandi. Looking closely at the emphasis of the dia­logue, we find that Roland’s discourse predicates the repetition of Christ’s death and resurrection as an existential category for all men (“non solum…Dei filius a mortuis resurrexit, verum etiam omnes hominess…”), and, pro­leptically, for Roland himself. The conversation takes place in the midst of a mortal combat; it began when Ferracutus asked the first series of questions which, like the whole dialogue, appear naive on one level but ultimately touch the most profound issues. The questions, and ultimately the conversation as a whole, operate in a meta­phoric/metonymic mode in which Roland and the French serve as the historic/ human correlates for Christ and Christians in the larger spiritual dimension. This metaphoric/metonymic structure, relating purpose and being so natu­ rally, emerges with impressive narrative economy from the three stichomythic questions and answers that begin the dialogue: “Tu autem quomodo vocaris?” “Rotolandus,” inquit, “vocor.” “Cujus generis,” inquit gigas, “es, que tam fortiter me expugnas?” “Francorum genere oriundus,” inquit Rotolandus, “sum.” At Ferracutus ait: “Cujus legis sunt Franci?” Et Rotolandus: “Christianae legis, Dei gratia sumus. Et Christi imperiis subiacemus, Et pro ejus fide, in quantum possumus, decertamus.”61 [“What is your name?”—”I am called Roland.”—”To what race,” says the giant, “do you belong that you fight me so bravely?”—”I am of the race of the Franks,” he says. And Ferracutus: “What law do the Franks recognize?” And Roland: “We are of the Christian law, by the grace of God. And we subject ourselves to the com­mands of Christ, and for his faith we struggle and fight as much as we are able.”]

Now when Roland continues the dialogue by explaining the essentials of Christianity, he simultaneously performs for the audience the same task that Christ performed for Nicodemus. In that instance, Christ made the Old Tes­tament episode of the bronze serpent a proleptic icon of his own Passion to come; here, we see how Roland’s own passion will be a figurative iteration of the story of Christ which he retells for Ferracutus. Like Christ, Roland func­tions as both narrator and interpreter. The conversation closes in a manner that integrates the spiritual dimension inextricably with the action: the resumed combat will be a test of spiritual truths. The winner will have his world view ratified by a judgment of God. By interpreting Christ’s story for Ferracutus, Roland interpolates his own story into the primordial myth of soteriology, just as Christ inscribed his impending Passion into the

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Conversation with Nicodemus. Henceforth, the Historia Rotholandi will unfold on two levels: that of historical specificity and that of anagogic signification that invests the first level with significance by repeating it in a context of universal meaning.

Figure 32. Angel bringing the olifant and Durendal to Charlemagne from God. Rudolf der Stricker / Rudolf von Ems, Weltchronik / Christ-Herre Chronik (fourteenth century.

We can now understand why, in the Charlemagne window at Chartres, Ro­ land acquires the attribute of the nimbus (panel 17) at the moment when, after calling upon “the Son of the Virgin,” he thrusts his sword through the giant’s navel, Ferracutus’s only vulnerable spot. The symbolic significance of that de­tail can hardly escape us. It is the umbilicus through which Ferracutus was nurtured in his mother’s womb. Conceived and nurtured by a false mother, the Saracen faith, the umbilicus would naturally be his vulnerable spot in this context. The text specifically ascribes Roland’s success to Christ’s aid. The sword, Durendal, was also sent by God, according to one legend (fig. 32). The message could scarcely be clearer: Roland, the historic agent, works with the help and instruments of the divine order to discredit paganism and make manifest the truth of the Word in the here and now. And he does so, like Christ, by being both the interpreter and, if not the incarnation in Roland’s case, at least the translator of the Word into action.


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The conversation with Ferracutus is Roland’s first real appearance in the work. He does not yet occupy the place accorded to Saint James and Charle­magne from the beginning. Like the monks and celebrants at Centula, Roland must still perform, in his own life, the cruciform ritual to demonstrate that he has assumed into his own person that basic article of the faith which he ex­pressed so forcefully to Ferracutus: “I tell you that the Son of God did not come back to life alone, for truly all men who have been from the beginning to the end of time will be reborn….” At this point in the Historia, although we take Roland’s presence for granted, we should note that he provides the kind of emotional identification for the work that Mary contributes to the Passion. He is the human agent through whom we understand divine purpose. Young, charismatic, eloquent, and courageous, Roland enables us to understand the existential category of the hero: the motivation of a youth of the time fighting for Christ; in short, an affective identification hardly available to the audience through the authori­ tative figure of Charlemagne. The final drama of Roland’s life, his passion, actualizes this potential in a series of actions, speeches, and visions which place Roland squarely in the mouvance of Christ and, more particularly, of his Passion. Through this final act, Roland provides for the Historia what Christ does for Scripture: an affec­tive identification of the human and the divine. The episode not only activates the model of the Passion in representing Ro­ land’s death, it also demonstrates very nicely the commemorative mechanics of the model. We find precisely those kinds of historic and spiritual details that had come to constitute, in the course of the eleventh century, a means for verifying and experiencing Christ’s Passion: tomb sites, relics, concrete arti­facts associated with the event, witnesses, and testimonials. Accordingly, we find at least two levels of signification in all of the actions performed by Roland at Roncevaux: the narrative sense, which pushes the story to its conclusion, and the commemorative sense, which posits an act or artifact that would have been verifiable in the real-life experience of the elev­enth- or twelfthcentury audience. The augmentative aesthetic functions here, as we might expect, to consti­tute a story ending which, like the Passion, will also be a beginning. That is, the reader will have to reinterpret all of Roland’s actions from the beginning, and notably the conversation with Ferracutus, in light of the anagogic dimen­sion he acquires via the passion. Thus, the anecdote of the stone that Roland slices in two by attempting to destroy Durendal on it (fig. 33) and the story of the “Valley of Charlemagne,”62 where the emperor first hears the echoing strains of Roland’s horn, cease to be purely narrative records of monovalent historical events. The stone and the valley become sites attesting to the rhe­torical transformation of history by revelation; concrete reminders that hu­man history can recapitulate Scripture, once again provingthat meaning in the world derives from divine intention perceived in sacred writ.

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Figure 33. Roland sounding the olifant and slicing the rock in two with Durendal. Chartres. Charlemagne window, panel 19.

More to the point, these events, unlike the biblical ones, occurred in the “near” past and in sites accessible to the European pilgrim. Roland’s passion thus imprints the distant events of Christ’s Passion on a real but hitherto neu­ tral geography, proximate both temporally and spatially. The medieval audi­ence could visit these sites in order to commemorate, to experience for them­selves an anagogic event in the immediacy of everyday life. 63 The Historia thus not only rewrites the past world, but also infuses the present with the rhetoric of Revelation. To take but a few of the more salient details of the episode, we note that Roland, like Christ, is betrayed by one of his own kind, Ganelon, who by his betrayal hopes to undermine the work of Saint James and


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Charlemagne, as Judas sought to destroy Christ’s work. As in the Gospel, the plan ironically assures what it intended to prevent and ultimately guarantees the complete and successful—if legendary—conquest of Spain. Lest the reader miss the point, the text explicitly makes the Ganelon/Judas correlation at the moment when Ganelon tries to persuade Charlemagne not to turn back: “O subdola controversia! O Ganaloni pravum consilium, Iudae proditoris tradicioni comparatum!” (O cunning contention! O vicious counsel of Ganelon, worthy to be compared to the treason of the traitor Judas! [chap. 23, p. 195]). Just as the Passion itself signifies ironically—death becomes life—so do the instruments of a passion. The cross, we saw, was a torture instrument of death transformed into “lignum vitae,” the tree that “took away the poison that came from a tree / And opened again the closed doors of life,” in the formula­ tion of the poem by Fulbert of Chartres, “De Sancta Cruce,” which we dis­cussed earlier. The cross was also a human instrument that acquired, via the Passion, divine status by means of the synecdoche wherein it came to signify the crucified Christ. The instruments of Roland’s passion, the sword Durendal and the olifant, acquire similar characteristics. Like the cross in whose shape it was fashioned, Durendal is an instrument of death that becomes, in the hands of the beatified Roland, a life-affirming instrument, a spiritual object. Like Roland himself, ultimately, Durendal figures Christ’s name and mean­ing, which are inscribed on the blade: magno nomine Dei Alpho et w in­ sculpte. Durendal becomes a relic; it also leaves its mark on the place of Ro­land’s martyrdom when he slices the stone in two while trying to destroy the sword so it will not fall into the hands of the Saracens after his death. Like the cross, Durendal appears as an object of incomparable beauty and religious power in the apostrophe which Roland addresses to the sword, not prior to an important battle, significantly, but just prior to his own death and apotheosis. In this apostrophe, Roland stresses the perfect proportions of the sword, pro­portions of length and breadth in which, like the cross, the breadth is con­ gruent to the length. He underlines the correlation between the physical pro­ portions of the sword and its spiritual purpose: to exalt the Christian faith and extend the praise of God. Once again we witness the augmentative aesthetic, in which form and purpose relate symbolically, even though each part may signify independently. Clearly, Roland’s apostrophe to his sword and descrip­tion of its purpose function metaphorically to describe his own role. 64 The other artifact of Roland’s passion, the olifant, brings Charlemagne back to Roncevaux and to the battle, while simultaneously causing Roland’s death, thereby permitting him, literally, to take his death upon himself. This act of self-sacrifice does not have the same cosmic significance as Christ’s, but

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the correlation supplies the meaning to the incident and to the denouement of the work as a whole. It is during the actual agony Roland undergoes, from the moment of the sounding of the horn, that the christological symbolism be­comes most evident. Panel 20 (fig. 23) of the Charlemagne window shows Baudoin, Roland’s brother in the Historia version of the legend, holding a helmet before Roland. The text of the Historia specifies that Roland suffered from an overwhelming thirst. Baudoin, sent to seek water, finds none. Both the window and the text thus stress the parallel between the thirst of Christ dying on the cross and that of Roland dying at Roncevaux, and the inability of either to find even that physical comfort in their last moments. 65 Finally, Roland himself, in his moving confession, recalls the Passion in terms which make the audience recognize his worthiness to be enrolled in the ranks of the martyrs. The confession specifically evokes the same sequence of events in Christ’s life—Nativity, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension—which constituted the catechism used earlier in the conversation with Ferracutus. This time, however, Roland relates them to his own situation, incorporating them in his plea for inclusion among the saved: “Sicut pro me Virgine nasci dignatus es et pati et mori et resurgere, sic animam meam liberare digneris ab eterna morte” (Just as you deigned to be born of the Virgin for me, and suffer and die and be resurrected, so please be willing to free my soul from eternal death). The long confession terminates only when Roland has translated his beliefs, his life, into a rhetoric of volition and faith marked by serene expectancy. With his entrails and torn skin in one hand, he turns his eyes toward heaven, where he “sees the place God has readied for those who love him.” Finally, he raises both hands toward heaven to pray for the souls of the dead warriors around him. As he says “amen,” “the soul of the blessed martyr Roland leaves the body and is taken by angels into the eternal glory of the company of holy martyrs who live and reign without end.”66 The ascension of Roland’s soul into heaven appears in greater detail in a mediated vision granted to Archbishop Turpin, the author of the Historia. Like that of Saint John in Revelation or Dante in the Divine Comedy, Turpin’s vision confirms the sacralization of Roland by casting his apotheosis as a reve­lation given by God to a saintly witness. If one had to choose one image to show how cruciform semiosis operates to render the anagogic and historic aspects of Roland’s life, that image would almost certainly have to be a fourteenth-century illumination from a German version of the Historia, Karl der Grosse (fig. 34). This splendid example of the augmentative aesthetic shows the moribund Roland performing simultane­ously his last act on the horizontal plane of historia and his ultimate gesture toward the divine powers; in other words, his own statement of the theoria informing his historical acts.


romanesque signs

Figure 34. The Death of Roland. He slays a Saracene with his horn “oliphant” and hands his glove to God the Father. Illuminated page from a chronicle (Stricker, Charlemagne), Swabia, early 14th cent. CE. (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Inv. Ms,germ. fol. 623/22/verso.)

The recumbent Roland uses the olifant to bludgeon the Saracen who tried to steal Durendal. As Roland wields these God-given weapons for the last time, immediately above him a nimbused hand descends from heaven to take the glove proffered by the warrior in a final gesture of fealty to God. Here the glove, like the hero’s faith, raises itself in the air, alone, a miracle which con­veys strikingly that Roland’s prowess derives from a faith ever turned toward God, even while he is engaged in martial effort. The image thus stands as a synecdoche for the battle as a whole, for Roland’s life as a whole. Roland, like Christ, dedicates his humanity to the service of the

historia and the poetics of the passion


divine. And so it may be said of Roland, as Saint Clement of Alexandria said of Christ, that: Here in o’erwhelming final strife The Lord of life hath victory; And sin is slain, and death brings life, And sons of earth hold heaven in fee.


romanesque signs

5 Roncevaux and the Poetics of Place/Person in the Song of Roland However satisfying the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi may be from a programmatic viewpoint, the fact remains that since the discovery of the Ox­ ford version of the Song of Roland in 1830 and its publication in 1836, the latter progressively and inexorably eclipsed the former as the preferred literary form of the legend for modern times. The reasons for this may be traced to the fundamentally different kinds of enunciation or discourse they represent. These differences would have been well understood as functional variations of narrative in the Middle Ages, but they have become “existential” differences in the modern period because the historia form has no modern counterpart. Whereas the mixed poetic form that we identify as epic continues to be a viable genre of literary expression within the normal experience and expectation of the average educated person, neither the concept nor much less the practice of the historia survived the Middle Ages. It was replaced in the Renaissance by a purer form of the classical model of historiography from which modern historiographic literature descends. For the modern reader to read and appreciate the historia form he must engage in what amounts to an archaeology of the genre. One of the major constraints of the historia as narrative—especially when we possess a poetic version of the same legendary material—stems from our impatience with what constituted the major virtue of the genre for the medie­val audience: its precisely controlled, programmatic discourse. A character like Roland, for example, remains purely an agent of the discourse in the Pseudo-Turpin; the text allows him no autonomy to develop a language of his own, to become “a person,” “a character,” in the sense we are accustomed to use these terms. So much so, in fact, that although we witness and understand Roland’s theosis in the Pseudo-Turpin, we cannot fully appreciate it because we have not participated, as an audience, in the agonistic struggle that pre­ceded it. Roland simply begins, in medias res, as the homo eruditus capable of recapitulating the language of Christ at the appropriate moment. In the Oxford Roland, on the other hand, the monumental, historical scope demanded by the historia yielded to a more restricted form of discourse with an unambiguous literarity. We find the same impulse toward directed vision as in the historia, the same effort to rewrite the world as history, but the focus is definitely narrower, more specifically trained on the problematics of the heroic, that is, on



the agonistic struggle of the hero to discern and follow the path of ascent. Not the making of the martyr-saint as object, but rather his gradual emergence into the light and his self-predication (and self-doubt) are what the poetic enunciation of the legend undertakes. The success of the heroic self-predication can never be in doubt, but the fact that it is postulated at all marks a major step forward in the dialectic of Ro­manesque narrative from our viewpoint. This development follows Eriugenian principles in shifting the narrative balance from result to process. In conse­quence, it opened poetic discourse to a much greater degree of audience partic­ipation: to the extent that all narrative values are not didactically spelled out, the audience plays a greater role in interpreting meaning. In short, the poetic form takes greater risks by permitting misinterpretations, by even encourag­ing, some might argue, misprision as part of the poetic experience. This, too, corresponds to the Eriugenian concept of reader participation as seen in our first chapter. We can really comprehend the extent of the innovation in Romanesque nar­ rative wrought by the Oxford Roland if we compare the poetics of person and place studied in the preceding chapters with those of the Oxford text. Person and place were indissolubly linked in the sacralization process as we have seen it emerge in different kinds of verbal and visual narrative in the eleventh cen­tury. Taking only the Pseudo-Turpin, we find Roland linked to Roncevaux from the moment he appears in the text, just as Charlemagne was to Aix, Saint James to Compostela, Saint Peter to Rome, Saint John to Ephesus, and Christ to Jerusalem. All of that stemmed naturally from the authoritative discourse of the his­toria form. It represents that control which guaranteed the equivalence au­thor/authority that we saw in chapter 1. But when the enunciation becomes truly mixed, that is, when the author permits the personae to play a greater role in the discourse, then uncertainty, doubt, error, in short, all the natural conditions with which humans generally relate to the wor(l)d must be in­scribed in the text. Now the uniqueness of the Oxford Roland, and its excitement, stems pre­cisely from the fact that it forces the characters to discover and predicate for themselves the valence of the action they undertake; and it permits them to question and make mistakes. By the same token, it encourages the audience to participate in the same dialectic, to take sides with and against the charac­ters and their positions. Unlike his alter ego in the Pseudo-Turpin, for example, Roland does not initially understand the valence of Roncevaux. Much of the drama of the poem stems from his initial misreading of the site and from his subsequent efforts to correct that misreading. The medieval audience, on the other hand, as we shall see in a moment, knew the valence of the site, and while it could still participate in the dialectics between the heroes, it possessed sufficient knowl­ edge to recognize Roland’s misreading and to realize the extent of the correc­tion he would have to make before attaining the sacred valence which the audience also knew from tradition.



Obviously, then, one of the fundamental differences between narrative in the historia and in the chansons de geste lies in the use made by the latter of ironic distance. Not inconsequentially, the Clermont-Ferrand Passion, also an early poetic narrative, as we saw, makes very effective use of dramatic irony in the disparity of knowledge between the audience (and Christ)—the privileged participants—and the other characters, who did not possess foreknowledge. For obvious reasons, the ironic distancing in the text can involve only the disciples and secondary characters. The principal figure, Christ, possesses fore­knowledge from the first and relies on it in predicating Jerusalem as the site of his humiliation and Golgotha as the site of his Passion. In the Oxford Roland, however, the scope for a hermeneutics of the word/ world becomes much greater, since Roland, unlike Christ, does not possess foreknowledge. As a phenomenon of being-as-language, he must discover and then predicate humiliation. Accordingly, the potential for doubly and triply ironic interplay between site and understanding, world and word assumes rich proportions. Let us turn, then, to consider the poetics of person and place, and the ex­tended use of ironic discourse, the language of humiliation, in three crucial moments of the Oxford Roland: the beginning of the battle, the second horn episode, and Roland’s death scene. But first, it will be helpful to examine briefly the poetics of the site, Roncevaux, in the context of eleventh- and twelfth-century descriptions. Roncevaux and the Poetics of Place Roncevaux has for so long been associated with Roland and Charlemagne, with epic din and tragic death, that we tend to forget the two-hundred-year interval between the first mention of the Pyrenean battle in the Royal Frank­ish Annals (c. 816) and its first specific siting at Roncevaux by the Nota Emil­ienense (c. 1050). But even though the textual tradition of Roncevaux does not begin until the eleventh century, the battle there was viewed, already at that time, as a historic event of the first importance, and the early manifestations of the tradition show signs of wanting to explain that significance. In addition to, or perhaps because of, its diachronic instability, Roncevaux is curious in another way: for the strikingly ambivalent nature of its monu­ments and relics from a military point of view. Most battlefields tend to be commemorated in terms of specific military maneuvers or events associated with the progress and outcome of the battle.1 Such is not the case for Ronce­vaux. The Oxford Roland, the Historia Karoli Magni at Rotholandi, the Ronsas­vals, the historical texts dealing with Roncevaux, none of them provides a description of the site that would permit military historians to reconstruct the battle strategies of the combatants. Over fifty years ago, Bédier drew attention to this fact without,



perhaps, fully realizing its significance: “certainly the scholars who have had the pleasure of reading the Chanson de Roland at Ron­cevaux have all quite rightly deplored the fact that the work contains practi­cally no detail specific to the depiction of that valley.”2 He does point out that the poet—”wishing to locate the action of his drama in two sites, to depict two highly contrasted settings like those that nature offered him”—did give an accurate topographical description of the site. In particular, the text juxta­poses the dramatic height of the mountain, the Port de Cize, over which Char­lemagne passed, and the valley plain below, Roncevaux itself, the latter more suited for mounted combat between two feudal armies. But a reading of the Oxford text shows that the contrast is not evoked in terms of the military feasibility Bedier stressed: valley versus mountain. The whole décor, mountains and valley, is Roncevaux. And yet this contrasting décor, especially the sweeping heights of the Port de Cize, is hardly conducive to military action, as the earliest descriptions of the battle make clear. None­theless, in all the descriptions of Roncevaux, be they in historical texts or poetic versions, the contrasting décor, “Halt sunt li pui e tenebrus e grant, / Li val parfunt e les ewes curant” (1830–31),3 so nightmarish for a pitched battle of the proportion assumed by this one, not only remains a basic feature of the landscape description, it becomes central to the narrative action itself at cru­cial points. In other words, both historical records and poetic versions of Roncevaux insist upon a specific kind of topographical configuration for the site which is not only unfavorable for military engagement but downright dangerous for it. This was perfectly understandable for the first descriptions of the engagement in the ninth-century accounts of the unsited ambush in the Pyrenees. In both the Royal Frankish Annals and Einhard’s Vita Karoli, to take the earliest ac­counts, the repeated references to the unsuitability of the terrain clearly serve to rationalize an embarrassing defeat.4 But the later texts do not make this claim. Far from decrying the setting, they seem to valorize it. For Bédier, a late romantic, as for Vigny, an early one, the answer to this apparent turnabout lay in the majesty which the natural setting lent to the epic action. But that setting, as we shall see, cannot be construed simply in terms of a romantic backdrop to the event, any more than it may be comprehended in terms of military strategy. The sign value of Ron­cevaux has more to do with Revelation than Romanticism, with Apocalypse than Clausewitz. We may begin to come to an understanding of Roncevaux as a complex sign system if we recall that in the Middle Ages the term Roncevaux stood for two distinct, if related, systems of referentiality. On the one hand, Roncevaux was a prominent pilgrim site, belonging to an important network of sites which together formed the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostela. That pilgrimage was, as Bédier has long since demonstrated, a social, economic, and cultural phenomenon, as well as a religious one. It also served as a stimulus for artistic works of various



kinds and facilitated their circulation. The primary text which we possess today describing the pilgrimage to Compostela as a semiotic system, as a network of expressive forms—texts, monuments, sites—is the Guide de Pèlerin de SaintJacques de Compostelle (c. 1130–40).5 On the other hand, Roncevaux was the term used during the Middle Ages to designate the poetic versions of what we today collectively call The Song of Roland. While this fact is well known, the significance of the metonymic con­flation of place and texts in the medieval signifier does not seem to have been fully appreciated or explored. What does this mean? The same term was used to signify the site of a historical event and the texts recounting the event. The latter do so in a way quite different from the early accounts of the same event before it was attached to the specific site, Ronce­vaux. In other words, the mythos of the battle of Roncevaux given in the po­etic versions differs from the mythos of a battle fought and lost by Charle­magne’s troops as recounted in ninth- and tenth-century texts, which say only that the engagement occurred in the Pyrenees. This suggests that the signifi­cance of the historical event—its value as sign and interpretant—was trans­formed in some way when it was identified with a specific site. We may get some idea of the semiotic significance of Roncevaux during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries by looking briefly at a few descrip­tions of the site in documents roughly contemporaneous with the earliest lit­erary versions. Our purpose will not be to suggest influence between the dif­ferent sets of texts, but simply to ascertain what the audiences’ expectations might have been regarding the value of the site, Roncevaux, based upon a va­riety of references. Is there general agreement among available texts that Ron­cevaux be viewed as other than a military site? What do these historical texts tell us about the alterity of Roncevaux? Its difference, its specialness? And finally, will we be able to find a correlation between the “historical” valence of Roncevaux as sign system in such texts and the role it plays in the discourse of the poetic versions, the “Roncevaux,” or at least in the Oxford text? Roncevaux: Generative Locus Before looking at the Guide du Pèlerin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, let us recall briefly that the Nota Emilienense (c. 1050) provides the first extant precise siting for the battle when, in its last line, it names “Rozaballes” at the “portum de Sicera.”6 This brief text singles out one hero, of the twelve men­tioned and six listed by name, whose death is significant enough to stand as a synecdoche for all the rest: Deinde placuit ad regem pro salutem hominum exercituum ut Rodlane belligerator fortis cum suis posterum ueniret. At ubi exercitum portum de Sicera transiret in Rozaballes a gentibus sarrazenorum fuit Rodlane occiso.



[Then it seemed right to the king that, for the safety of the main army, Roland, the powerful warrior, should come behind with his men. But when the army crossed the Port de Cize at Roncevaux, Roland was killed by the Saracens.]

Taking only the most salient details of the whole text, we find that it juxta­ poses the death of an exemplary hero—who is associated with Charlemagne and esteemed by him over all the other warriors—with a locus, “Rozaballes,” dominated by the highest peak in the vicinity it places a warrior-prelate, Archbishop Turpin, among the slain; and finally, it ascribes the significant death of the exemplary hero to an alien and pagan race: “a gentibus sarraze­norum.” The Nota suggests that the site and the death of Roland signify together, but nothing more. By the end of the eleventh century, however, we find that the whole site of Roncevaux has become the object of a donation to a religious order. In the cartulary of Conques, an entry dating between 1097 and 1104 records the donation to the Abbey of Sainte-Foy of the church and almonry of Roncevaux, along with a communal oven and mill. Indeed, the entire Bourg of Roncevaux was, according to the charter, to have passed to the monks of Con­ques upon the death of the donor, Sancho, count of Erro.7 In 1132, the hospital at Roncevaux was founded by the bishop of Pamplona, Sancho de la Rose, with the help of the king of Navarre and Aragon, Alphonso the Warlike. This fact is attested by an early thirteenth-century poem pre­served in the archives of Roncevaux. The poem stresses the mountain setting, characterizing Roncevaux and the hospital as “ad radicem maximi montis Pi­renei.” The purpose of this foundation was to assist the pilgrims who passed through Roncevaux en route to Compostela.8 Underlining the importance of this charitable undertaking by the bishop of Pamplona and king of Navarre, two papal bulls of Innocent II, the first dated 5 May 1137, confirm the enter­prise. In addition, they place under the pope’s special protection “the church of Saint Mary of the hospital of Roncevaux as well as the hospice of the poor in the same place.”9 Other documents, perhaps forgeries, suggest that there may have been a Chapel of Charlemagne above Roncevaux. Although it is unlikely that this church actually did exist in the early twelfth century, its anteriority was con­sidered so firmly established by the thirteenth century, and so important, that documents were forged to show that it had been founded in 1106.10 These scattered but insistent documents attesting the association of Ron­ cevaux with religious foundations may be better understood if we turn now to the most extensive early-twelfth-century historical document describing the site of Roncevaux, the fifth and last book of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, Le Guide du Pèlerin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. The Guide refers to Roncevaux and the Port de Cize in five of the eight chapters devoted to aspects of the pilgrimage outside of Compostela itself. In fact, the Guide devotes more space and provides greater



detail for the setting of Roncevaux than for any other shrine mentioned except Compostela. Chapter 3, which names and comments on the towns and cities on the road to Santiago, says that “at the foot of the mountain of Cize, on the Gascon side, there is the town of Saint Michael; then, after having crossed the summit of the mountain, one finds the hospice of Roland, then the city of Roncevaux.”11 SaintMichel, a royal possession, also possessed an important religious estab­lishment, including a church and hospital for the use of pilgrims.12 As such, it would naturally form a complement to the similar foundations at Roncevaux, on the other side of the mountain. We shall soon see that for the pilgrims who passed that way, the religious shrines imparted a special aura to the whole mountain— its bases as well as its summit. The three principal sites on the mountain were under the protection of Saint Michael, Charlemagne, and Roland; Saint Michael, we recall, is the warrior archangel known from Revelation—and from the Oxford Roland, where he is cited five times and appears once, to help Gabriel transport Roland’s soul to heaven. In the Guide, Roland and Saint Michael are the patrons of religious foundations linked to and by the impressive height of Cize, described by con­temporary texts as the highest mountain in the Pyrenees, an impression given also by the Guide.13 Our own familiarity with the sky as a normal place of travel makes us forget the awe with which earlier ages viewed it and the consequent sign value at­tached to impressive eminences in the Middle Ages. In chapter 7, the Guide refers to the Cize as that “excellentissimus mons quod dicitur Portus Cisere,” and then justifies the superlative by giving its height: “cujus ascensus octo miliariis et descensus similiter octo habetur”.14 Now this sentence rather adroitly conjoins what appears to be realistic description with obvious affec­tive projection. The “ascensus” and “descensus” of the description refer to the paths, one leading up and the other down, an ostensibly realistic detail. But the fact that these paths were so long, eight miles up and another eight down, imparts a suggestion of great height to the mountain. This affective reaction emerges clearly in the commentary: “Sublimitas namque ejus tanta est quod visa est usque ad celum tangere, cujus ascensori visum est propria manu celum posse palpitari…” (the height of this mountain is such that it seems to touch the sky; to whoever climbs it, it seems to be possible to feel the sky with his own hand). The text credits the creation of this skyline route—a terrestrial parallel to the Milky Way (see fig. 31) running from the Frisian Sea to Santiago de Com­ postela described in the Historia Karon Magni et Rotholandi—to Charle­magne. According to the Guide, he built the road on the journey to Spain with his army and raised a cross on the summit, the “Cross of Charlemagne,” and then knelt to pray to God and Saint James. This cross became a prominent boundary landmark, demarcating the southernmost marches of France from Spain, as we



know from a bull of Pope Paschal II in 1106 and from the Chron­icle of Vézelay (c. 1160).15 Eleventh-century pilgrims, in their turn, ritually reiterated Charlemagne’s original cruciform gesture upon reaching this sacred locus: “Wherefore,” says the Guide, “pilgrims customarily bend their knee and pray in that place, turned toward the country of Saint James, and each thrusts his cross of the Lord into the ground as his own standard. A thousand crosses may be seen there; wherefore this place is said to be the first station of prayers of Saint James.”16 Descending from the summit toward Roncevaux, pilgrims found yet another relic linking the site with a numinous past; a relic over which not a military, but an ecclesiastical, monument had been erected. This was the stone split by Roland with a treble blow of his divinely created sword, Durendal. As in the Nota Emilienense, Roland alone, of all the heroes, is singled out and glorified as “Rotolandus heros potentissimus.” The church and the rock constitute tangible monuments to his presence on the site. It is not accidental that the moment commemorated by the rock split in two is that just prior to his death. Poetic versions and historic texts alike differen­tiate the battle proper from the narrative of Roland’s death and the actions, such as the splitting of the rock with Durendal, that accompanied it. In the Guide, the battle, mentioned after the description of the church and the rock, is spatially and commemoratively separate from the locus, the site occupied by the physical monuments to Roland’s death: “Next may be found Roncevaux, that is, the place where formerly a great battle took place in which King Marsile and Roland and Oliver and other warriors with forty thousand Christian and Saracen soldiers were killed.” 18 No monuments, only the textual memory, marks the site of the military action, a site which is oriented in relation to the sacred locus of church and rock. In this account, the memory of the battle clearly functions to provide an anchoring context for the event associated with the relic—the split rock—marked by the church. The battle is thus somehow ancillary to the com­memorated event, the death of Roland and the deeds of Charlemagne, both of which made possible— the text implies—the pilgrim’s presence “in media via sancti Jacobi.” Finally, we should note that the reciprocal sign relationship between the relic and the church containing it corresponds to and completes, on the Span­ish side of the Cize—that is, the side closest to the enemy territory—the set­ting apart, or sacralization, of the mountain begun at the Bourg Saint-Michel on the French side. The whole natural setting of the Cize, affectively assumed to be the highest in the Pyrenees, has been phatically marked, in the descrip­tive language of the Guide, with anagogic connotation. Furthermore, this anagogic connotation stems from the composite actions of Charlemagne’s army both going to and returning from Spain. The implica­tion could



not be clearer: the campaign was a religious one whose intention was to create the pilgrimage route whose itinerary the Guide describes. Note that the pilgrim, however, is supposed by the Guide to be going from France to Compostela. It is his progress toward the spiritual experience of that locus, not his return to everyday life, that the Guide seems to be concerned with. We must bear this fact in mind, for it corresponds in more than one respect to the textual intentionality of the poetic versions. On the French side of the mountain, the pilgrim passes through the shrine commemorating Saint Michael. Like Saint James, Saint Michael had the co­quille as an iconographic attribute; he is considered as the guardian par excel­lence of sanctuaries; the defender of the Church (“custos Ecclesiae romanae”); and, finally, he is the Lord of Souls, who bears them to heaven, as the Oxford Roland depicts him and Gabriel taking Roland’s soul there.19 The cruciform symmetry appears full-blown on the summit of the Cize where the Cross of Charlemagne serves as a monument sacralizing the em­peror’s struggle against nature and pagans in creating the pilgrim road, and commemorates his pious gesture upon its completion. In climbing the moun­tain, planting their own cross, and kneeling to pray to Saint James and God, the pilgrims reiterate Charlemagne’s actions (and presumably those of his host). The whole site, then, ceased to be a natural or a historic one. It received its meaning from a sacred rewriting: in conjunction with the Guide, the site be­came a textualized itinerary directing the pilgrim’s vision and telling him that his progress through this place was a symbolic one; a projection of himself back onto the sacred time of in illo tempore, when real heroes and martyrs, his Christian predecessors, waged a literal battle against nature and nonbeliev­ers to win the prize of eternal life and the heavenly crown. Roncevaux, Bordeaux, and Blaye The Guide does not evoke the terrible scene of Roland’s suffering and martyr­ dom for the pilgrim at Roncevaux itself. It does provide an emotionally charged description of his martyrdom in chapter 8, when describing the tomb of Roland at Blaye. Here, we find a brief recapitulation of the battle details given in chapter 7 in the description of the site, but recast in the context of a text-event encompassing the life and death of the martyr-hero. Like the de­scriptions in chapter 7, this one too is constituted around relics: the horn pre­served in Saint-Seurin at Bordeaux and the tomb containing Roland’s body in the church at Blaye, just across the Gironde from Bordeaux. Each of the relics is an object with a dual nature as (1) relic in the present time, but functioning as (2) a constituent of the sacred past as historia. In other words, the instruments/relics signify at the level of both historia and theoria, as we came to understand these terms in chapter 4. Here, they help to stress the link between the dual loci of signification, that is, the locus of the



historia, Roncevaux, and the locus of theoria, the relic sites of Bordeaux and Blaye. Thus, if the poetic versions recount the original events in great detail, including the translation of Roland’s body from Roncevaux to Blaye and the deposition of the olifant at Bordeaux, it is the Guide that reveals the pur­pose of those acts by demonstrating the semiotic exchange between battle site and relic site, between poetic texts and pilgrim text. The title of the chapter is instructive: “De corporibus sanctorum que in ytinere sancti Jacobi requiescunt, que peregrinis ejus sunt visitanda” (Regard­ing the saintly remains which lie on the route of Saint James that pilgrims should visit). At Bordeaux and Blaye the principal objects of veneration, so far as the Guide is concerned, are the “corpus beati Rotolandi martiris” and the ivory horn. The enumeration of these objects, the recapitulation of the original event at Roncevaux, and the story of their translation to the present locations take up a whole page in the text. A mere two-sentence reference to the body of Saint Seurin, whom we might expect to receive rather more attention, alerts us to the fact that the principal objects of pilgrim interest here are Roncevaux­related. In the recapitulation of the Roncevaux material, we find Roland again dis­ tinguished from the rest of the army; he is credited with what appears to be the single-handed expulsion of the Saracens from Spain. The rest of the pas­sage concerns the two feats of what the Oxford text will develop as Roland’s passion. Asserting Roland’s great strength, the text, by way of corroboration, repeats the story of the rock split in two by Roland with his sword. This time the story is extended by reference to the horn, also split in two by the force of Roland’s blowing it, an anecdote that had not been recounted in the descrip­tion of Roncevaux. “The horn of ivory,” continues the Guide, “precisely the one that was split, is in the city of Bordeaux, at the church of the Blessed Seurin, and over the rock in Roncevaux, a church has been built.”20 Constructed by means of chiastic order, these two periods place the rock of the event and the rock as relic, the Roncevaux of the event and the Roncevaux as sacred site in first and last position, surrounding the horn-event at Ronce­vaux and the horn-relic preserved at Bordeaux. The resultant homology dem­onstrates clearly the semiotic exchange between original event/commemora­tive event, battle site/ relic site, and the different texts they constitute: a (rock) text-event Roncevaux

b b (rock) (rock) : text-event : : relic-event Roncevaux Bordeaux monument

a (rock) : relic-event Bordeaux monument

All this is but a necessary prolegomenon; there remains the task of valoriz­ ing Roland’s tomb, the main object of the pilgrim’s veneration at Bordeaux and Blaye. For this purpose, the text again uses comparison, this time with Scripture. A



reading of the passage reveals that it is, in fact, constructed on two levels. There is the mimetic register of historical denotation, which provides the armature for the description. This minimal narrative offers the basic de­tails of Roland’s mythos—his death at Roncevaux and burial at Blaye—but does not explain them: for example, what was the manner of his death? How did he come to be buried at Blaye? A second level interprets the literal meaning of the minimal narrative. This level answers the questions raised by the purely factual account and directs the pilgrim’s understanding of the tomb as an object of veneration. The sec­ond-level narrative functions by semantic indirection. Rather than denoting the historical givens of the Roncevaux-Roland matter, the elements of this register are semantically marked with meaning from another, analogous sign-system of known value: that of Christ’s Passion and the martyr passions based on it. This connotative register actuates a system of referentiality which might not ordinarily be associated with the history of Roncevaux. It comes in here as a gloss or trope—a metatext—to show that what happened to Roland at Roncevaux and Blaye was like what happened to Christ and the apostolic mar­tyrs as told in the accounts of their deaths. Thus the putatively “historical” account of Roland’s death and burial is really a metaphoric transformation of soldier to martyr Christi, of event-site to passionsite, and of tomb-site to relic-site. After having conquered kings and people in many wars, Roland, worn out by hun­ger, cold and excessive heat, beaten by violent blows, ceaselessly whipped for the love of God, pierced by arrows and lances, this precious martyr of Christ died, it is said, of thirst in the aforementioned valley. His companions buried his most sacred body in Saint Roman’s basilica at Blaye with fitting veneration.21

Such representations could hardly be justified by the authority of the Guide alone. The dual referential system of historical denotation and anagogic con­notation was concordant with contemporary versions of the legend, as we saw in the last chapter. This raises the question of intertextual references in the Guide to the con­ temporary accounts of the legend upon which the Guide bases its résumés. That the Guide assumes a knowledge of the poetic versions, the Roncevaux, cannot be doubted, for there are details in the Guide whose importance is asserted, but not explained: the significance of the horn, for example. The Guide tells us that Roland split it with the force of his blast, but not why he blew it. The primary difference between the poetic versions and the Guide is that the former set out to reiterate the historia in illo tempore, to cast it in a frame­ work of anagogic (metaphysical and teleological) signification for an audience that will not necessarily be on the site, whereas the Guide postulates an au­dience that will actually visit Roncevaux, Bordeaux, and Blaye and will want to understand the relationship of venerated objects and site to the sacred past which it is reexperiencing by its physical pilgrimage.



This difference constitutes a crucial distinction for the role of place in the narrativity of the two kinds of texts. Each articulates place as presence differently. The Guide treats place as experienced space in a dual time frame, where the emphasis falls upon the here and now, the commemorative activity of site visitation. In the Guide, we see that place—responding to the augmentative aesthetic, which we studied in the last chapter—has acquired a coordinated but independent meaning as the setting or frame for a new set of significations of the original material. The poetic versions, on the other hand, treat place, Roncevaux, as formal space, a setting for the narrative which is a reiteration of a sacred past. In the latter case, Roncevaux is not actually assumed to be a physical presence to the audience; it is the site of action of the historia, and therefore a function of the story. Nevertheless, to the extent that the two spatial connotations were coeval, and to the extent that the audience for both kinds of texts was homogeneous, the Roncevaux of the Guide and other historical documents has a role to play in our determination and interpretation of the function of Roncevaux in the poetic tradition. In any event, we can see that both kinds of texts, the poetic versions and the Guide, predicate meaning of person and place as sacred according to the tri­a ngular model of signification discussed in chapter 1 apropos the text pro­ duction in Rodolphus Glaber’s account of the conflagration at Orléans s. We can restate that schema for the case in hand as follows: “Microcosmic World View” = Historia/Theoria (World-as-Word Context)


A Person: Roland Narrative: Roncevaux, Guide Place: Roncevaux, Blaye

B Christ/martyr Christi Scripture/Apocrypha/Hagiography Jerusalem/Passion Site/Relic Site (Sacred Locus)



Iconography of Roncevaux: Pilgrimage Site as Text We should now look at the role played by Roncevaux as site in the Oxford Roland. Before doing so, however, it might be useful to summarize the iconog­raphy of Roncevaux as site. The early texts, including the Royal Frankish Annals and Einhard’s Vita Karoli, which we did not have time to examine, situated the event on a high mountain in the Pyrenees, a site ill-suited to military exploits but not to sa­cred associations. Subsequent elaboration set off the mountain with sacred shrines: a site dedicated to Saint Michael on the French side, a shrine com­memorating Charlemagne and Saint James on the summit, and a church ded­icated to the principal martyr-hero of Roncevaux, Roland, built over a relic of his passion, the stone split in two, on the Spanish side of the mountain. The name of the site, first given as Rozaballes, a descriptive toponym meaning, something like “flat plain,” becomes Runciavallis or Rencesvals, meaning “Vale of Thorns.”22 Later texts recount the foundation of edifices devoted to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Savior in proximity to Roland’s church; the existence of white hawthorn bushes and black thorn trees as marking the places where Christian warriors fell as opposed to Saracens; and the regular appearance on the site of “troops of angels who frequently visit the Chapel of the Holy Savior [where the remains of the Christian warriors who died in the battle were said to lie], as is attested by witnesses who have heard them.”23 While this review does not exhaust the iconic element of Roncevaux, it is sufficient to establish a clear schema, and one that helps to show that the text-event in narratives of the site was completed by/ another level, that of site as anagogic index. It was this latter factor that underwent a rich development, overlaying the original text-event, the battle, with a progressive accretion of sacred symbolism, primarily christological in nature. This accreted symbol­ism inexorably displaced the meaning and function of the site from military denotation to religious connotation. The purpose of this displacement is well known. As the Guide, the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi, and the Oxford Roland attest, it aimed at incor­ porating Roncevaux into a network of pilgrimage sites closely interlinked by the thread of iconographic and intertextual coherence provided by the camino trances, the route of Saint James of Compostela. The dual function of Roncevaux may be better understood if we leave it momentarily to go to Le Puy, which the Guide cites as the starting point for one of the four principal pilgrimage routes to the Galician shrine. Marcel Dur­liat recently studied the nature of medieval shrines in southwest France, par­ticularly those associated with the route of Saint James. Speaking of the im­portance of naturally dramatic sites, Durliat says,



It must be remembered that the veneration of pilgrims could be directed either toward a naturally sacred site or toward an object containing a fragment of the sacred. This distinction seems fundamental to us…for consecrated sites com­mended themselves generally by their spectacular appearance: be it elevated sum­mits, deep caves, or vast rock shelters [my italics].24

He goes on to point out that such “naturally consecrated sites were most frequently placed by the Church under the protection of exceptionally vener­ated saints but for whom there were no relics, that is, essentially the Virgin Mary and the archangel Saint Michael.”25 Le Puy is dominated by three peaks. “As early as the sixth century, the Virgin Mary took possession of the most massive of these rocky masses…. [T]he precise location of the shrine was determined by supernatural intervention, for angels assisted at the consecra­tion of the church. Originally, there were no relics and the pilgrims venerated with exceptional fervor a huge rock which had perhaps been part of an ancient dolmen.”26 Durliat’s description emphasizes points already familiar to us from Ronce­ vaux: the association of the shrine with a dramatically high place, a sacred rock, and an angelic visitation marking the site of the church dedicated to the Virgin. This description provides the basics of the narrative function of the site, as it were, with a minimum of elaboration as regards its connotative sig­nificance. That aspect developed later, during the tenth century, when the site underwent a dramatic transformation from an isolated shrine commemorating the Virgin to a richly connotative site connected to a sacred textual tradition, on the one hand, and to the network of pilgrim shrines, on the other. In the mid-tenth century, a neighboring peak, higher than that consecrated to the Virgin, was dedicated to Saint Michael. Ever since his appearance at Mount Gargano in Italy in the 490s, Saint Michael had a tendency to establish his authority in high places, but in this instance, Durliat sees another reason for the dedication of the peak that rose above that of the Virgin to Saint Mich­ael. It was to create a dialectical pairing of the two sites. Saint Michael and the Virgin: the reference is unmistakably an evocation of that apocalyptic con­frontation in Revelation 12:1–8, when Saint Michael rushes to protect the mother and child against the menace of the dragon. At Le Puy, nature itself celebrates the Christian mystery. From the summit of his rock, the awesome Saint Michael rises up to protect the Virgin. And so an apocalyp­tic combat perpetuates itself in the sky: the struggle of the angel against the dragon who threatens the woman adorned with the sun and the male child to which she has given birth.”

Tenth-century contemporaries, says Durliat, had a clear understanding of the significance of this mise-en-scène. It is one we find repeated, for example, in the plan



of the different parts of the abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, for which we possess a contemporary text elucidating the symbolism.28 We also have evidence attesting that the purpose of this transformation of site at Le Puy was indeed to establish a dual system of referentiality for the shrine. The author of the scenario at Le Puy was Bishop Godescalc, who dedi­cated the shrine of Saint Michael in 961. 29 The date is significant for it comes precisely a decade after Godescalc made the first pilgrimage, by a non-Span­iard, to Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage he is generally credited with founding. Durliat sees a definite connection between the creation of the pilgrimage route by Godescalc and the dialectical expansion of the sacred site at Le Puy. Godescalc’s pilgrimage undoubtedly made him conscious of the potential of a dramatic setting for bolstering the religious fervor of the pilgrim, and of the consequent economic benefit to a shrine to be derived from nurturing that fervor. It certainly made him aware of the value of a sacred site which figured a text of sacred or apocryphal writ, as did the shrine at Compostela. The significance of all this for us lies in the second-stage expansion of the sacred site. In enlarging the context of the original shrine, Godescalc established an index level for the site based upon reference to a specific text of the Logos: the book of Revelation.30 The new shrine, dialectically paired with the older one, gave a textual coherence to both, since they now, together, signify the eternal apocalyptic struggle of the chiliastic forces of good over evil. Thus, just as in the case of Roncevaux/Bordeaux/Blaye, Le Puy underwent a metaphoric glossing whereby the site might be “read,” or interpreted, accord­ ing to a system of referentiality, the Book of Revelation, not originally linked to it. This glossing provides an expanded connotation for the site, permitting it to be linked with a whole network of other sites and texts. Godescalc created this monumental scenario after his visit to Compostela, which established the pilgrim route between Le Puy, the starting point, and Compostela, the goal. The linkage of Le Puy and Compostela established by Godescalc was not merely spatial, the beginning and the end of a pilgrimage; by choosing Revelation as the paradigmatic work for his shrine, Godescalc created another level of signification through its author, John, then believed to be John the Evangelist, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, the patron of Compostela, as we saw in the last chapter. James and John, after Andrew and Peter, the first to be called by Christ, were distinguished among the apostles for Christ’s prediction of their martyrdom. Their mother had asked of Christ: “Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other on your left in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). Christ answered with a prophecy generally regarded as cast­ ing their death in terms of a recapitulation of his own: “‘You do not know what you are asking,’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going



to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Very well,’ he said, ‘you shall drink my cup” (Matthew 20:22–23). Saint James was the first apostle to be martyred; his martyrdom reiterated that of Christ’s precursor, John the Baptist: James having been beheaded by Herod Agrippa as John was by Herod Antipas. Since James’s role as the first apostle to preach in the West definitely made him, like John, a “vox clamantis in deserto,” the homologization of his life and death to that of John the Baptist seemed inevitable. His brother John also preached a vision in the wilderness: he wrote Revelation while in exile on the island of Patmos, as the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi reminded its audience. Godescalc thus made sure that this branch of the pilgrim route would begin and end with evocations of martyrdom and apocalypse, highly appropriate im­ agery for a region where the confrontation of the forces of God and Mahomet would remain a fact of life for several centuries to come. In effect, Godescalc’s scenario proclaimed the lesson of the martyrs, who, as the Passion of Cler­montFerrand puts it, make their lives a living text announcing the arrival of the “regnum Dei.” In them, the coherence of language was the coherence of reality. That shrines were conceived of in this way as manifestations of the Logos, physical figurations of the text as sacred writ, appears clearly, as we saw in the last chapter, in such works as the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi. Rome, Ephesus, and Compostela, we recall, were seen as the principal seats of Chris­tianity because they had been consecrated by the teaching and death of the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, “those who were closest to Christ and to whom he revealed his secrets.” They are revelation sites placed in the mouvance of the Logos by the words and deeds of the apostles associated with them; their authority could be “proved” by the fact that their tombs could be found there, just as Christ’s tomb could be found in Jerusalem. Physical space may thus be differentiated according to a hierarchy of prox­imity to the Logos, a kind of textual apostolic succession: for just as Our Lord elected Saint Peter, Saint James and Saint John over all the others, to whom he revealed his secrets, as the Gospel shows, thus did he wish to show that their seats [Rome, Compostela, and Ephesus] be honored above all the others; and they deserve to be called the foremost, for just as these three Apostles had more grace and dignity than the others, so should those sacrosanct places in which they preached, and where they are buried, take precedence over all the other seats in the world.31

It follows, therefore, that for a place to be sacralized it had also to be “textual­ ized,” that is, shown to express some aspect of Scripture. We can now begin to answer, perhaps, one of our original questions: how Roncevaux could be used interchangeably to signify texts and place.



Figure 35. Trumpeter (Roland?). South Porch. Saint-Pierre, Moissac, France

That the lesson of Le Puy and Compostela does indeed figure in our under­ standing of the sacralization of Roncevaux and Roland may be further sup­ported by the fact that Archbishop Turpin is the textual narrator and putative author of the lines quoted above. Like Godescalc at Le Puy, he equates locus and text, for— immediately preceding the above quotations—he has placed Compostela in the mouvance of Charlemagne and of his own text with the claim, And I, Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims…dedicated the church and altar of Saint James [at Compostela], at the request of Charlemagne in the month of June. To this Church, Charlemagne subjugated all of Spain and Galicia…and established that henceforth this church be called an Apostolic Seat because the body of Saint James lay there….32

Whether one chooses to link the iconography of Roncevaux to that of Le Puy, the similarities adduced remain, as does the evidence for a dialectical rapport between Roncevaux and the sites along the route from Le Puy to Com­postela. Fern Farnham and Charles Altman have discussed the rapport be­tween the tympanum of Sainte Foy de Conques and the composition of the Roland.33 We also saw a direct connection between Roncevaux and Conques in the donation of Count Sancho of Erro mentioned earlier.



The Chronicle of Moissac speaks of Roncevaux, and, high on a crenellation of the porch of Saint-Pierre de Moissac, there is a single stone figure, a warrior turned toward the Pyrenees, holding an olifant to his lips (fig. 35). This sculp­ture dates from the early twelfth century.34 These rapports are far less dependent upon local legends, as Bédier thought, than upon the major textual tradition of Christianity: the Book of Revelation at Le Puy; hagiography and the Passion Gospels at Conques; the Acts of the Apostles at Moissac; the Passion at Roncevaux; the Acts of the Apostles and Apocrypha at Compostela. Always a dialectical tension between site and Scripture, legend and Logos, and always, the site placed under the protecting vocable of a martyred saint or apostle, or else, of the Virgin and Saint Michael, patron of those who fought the Saracens. Bédier’s formula possessed the right elements, but in the wrong order. In­ stead of “Au commencement était la route, la route jalonnée de sanctuaires,” the motto should read, “Au commencement étaient les textes, les textes représentés par sanctuaires.” Roncevaux and the Oxford Version The preceding pages have given us some understanding of the semiotic value of Roncevaux in the historical documents associated with it, and of the site itself. We must now turn our attention to the poetic versions, particularly the Oxford Roland, to ascertain the means by which they predicate Roncevaux as other than or more than a battle site. The tension implicit in the concept of the battle as other is precisely what makes the poetic versions so interesting. All of the documents examined attest to the importance of the “historical” event, the battle, as the basis for Roncevaux’s and Roland’s fame, even while emphasizing other aspects of the material. Only the poetic versions have the dual task of telling the story of the battle while simultaneously signifying its expanded connotation. The problem is not dissimilar to the two-stage expansion of site that we saw at Le Puy. In the poetic texts, however, the two stages occur simultaneously as a function of the narrative in the text, rather than in historical sequence. Still, the principle is quite similar, especially when one remembers that the mythos of the battle antedates the poetic versions which provide the elevation of con­notation by several centuries, precisely as the shrine of the Virgin antedates the shrine of Saint Michael at Le Puy. The addition of the latter did not change the meaning of the first shrine, in and of itself, but it did give a new connota­tion, a more universal significance to the context of the shrine, by activating a complex of textual and intertextual referentiality. In the poetic versions, the two stages correspond to two kinds of narrative strategy: (1) predication of the story (narrative as sign), historia, and (2) expan­sion of



context to “explain” the story (narrative as interpretant), theoria. These two narrative levels constitute the dual referential system of historical denotation and anagogic connotation which permitted the metaphoric trans­formation of Roland from soldier to martyr Christi in the Guide du Merin and in the Pseudo-Turpin. The linking of person and place here should not surprise us. The preceding chapters have repeatedly shown how Romanesque narrative linked person and place in a process of mutual significance. In the Oxford text, the narrative expansion of battle site that we recognize as a poetics of place involves a recip­ rocal transformation of the principal persons signified by the place, Ronce­vaux, particularly Roland. The Oxford text establishes a discourse which permits the battle to become a setting for a spiritual struggle and illumination for its principal hero. In it­self, that would not distinguish the Oxford version from the Pseudo-Turpin or from the other materials studied in this book. The poetic innovation of the Oxford text lies in the risks it takes, in the reticence shown by the text in developing this theme. Unlike the Pseudo-Turpin, the Oxford version does not immediately concern itself with the theosis of Roland nor even postulate it as an inevitable conclusion. The interest of this work, its freshness, lies in its refusal to reveal its ultimate purpose immediately. It accepts the risks of mis­reading—a risk the Pseudo-Turpin would never run—in favor of a gradual reve­lation of purpose, one that comes primarily through the intuitional progress of Roland. This poetics of person requires that the principal characters play a more active role in the narrative exposition than is the case for the Pseudo-Turpin, for example, where authorial discourse predominates. The Oxford Roland, on the contrary, has a much higher percentage of the “mixed” or alternating dis­ course (authorial intervention and character dialogue) traditionally associated with epic poetry. More importantly, we find that the whole episode of the Battle of Roncevaux develops dramatically through the perceptions of the principal persons, especially the Franks: Roland, Turpin, and Oliver. The di­a lectic of perception appears primarily, but not exclusively, in the confronta­tions between characters where the “naming” of the battle, identifying what, in fact, Roncevaux really means, becomes a central device for rendering it pre­sent and immediate to the audience. By means of the dialectic of perception, the text manages to overcome the foreknowledge of the audience—for whom Roncevaux and Roland were known values—and to present the situation in terms of the problem of know­ing, or recognition, it posed for the characters. The dialectical approach causes the two parts of the battle—the initial phase, from laisse 69 to 110, and the second phase, from laisse 111 to the death of Roland in laisse 176—to be perceived differently by the characters and the audience. The progression from one part to the other involves a movement from



“historical” to sacred time and space, and a gradual convergence of au­thorial and audience perspective with that of the principal persons, particu­larly Roland. In the first part of the battle, the narrative representation of a probable his­ torical space and time appears to be scrupulously postulated by the discourse; in the second part, this mode gives way to a mythic predication in which “real” time is suspended and space already appears as locus, or sacred site, treated in much the same way that the Guide treats the Cize and Roncevaux. Supernatural beings and events—conspicuously absent in the first part of the battle—dominate the scene progressively through the second part, reaching a crescendo at the moment of Roland’s death and in the events that follow it. As might be expected, the language of the battle undergoes a transformation from one part to the other, so that the manner of predication of the two sec­ tions is quite different. The two parts of the battle, which appear initially to form a sequence, in fact constitute two ways of perceiving the events, the second requiring a reinterpretation of the first; it is, to borrow Charles Alt-man’s useful term, an intratextual rewriting of the first.35 As at Le Puy, the mediation of a text from Scripture signals the transformation from narrative as historia to narrative as theoria. Viewed in this way, the battle may be cast in terms of a praxis of revelation. At the beginning, Frankish and Saracen characters alike speak of the battle in terms of a purely military engagement, familiar to them from past experience. They not only state the event in these terms, they act accordingly. Gradually, as their initial predications undergo deliberate ironic reversal—the text is structured on an axis of predication and reversal, as we shall see—another order of reality appears, but one whose perception constitutes a spiritual act that will function to create a hierarchy of characters based upon their stated proximity to the Logos. Access to the truth will distinguish the privileged characters just as in the Historia Karon Magni et Rotholandi the principal triad of apostles was distinguished from the others by its proximity to Christ, the Word. This narrative transformation, corresponding to a change in the function of the two sections, may be measured by the role of the Saracens in the battle. At the beginning, they figure prominently, and the fighting occurs very much as we might expect in a more or less realistic account. Gradually, this mimetic narrative gives way, until, in the last engagement, three Franks rout fifty thou­ sand Ethiopians. Roland announces to Turpin, the archbishop: “Cist camp est vostre, mercit Deu, vostre e mien” (1. 2183; This battlefield is yours, thanks to God, yours and mine). The Saracens have been effaced from the site and are absent altogether during the next thirteen laisses culminating in Roland’s death and the appearance of the archangels Saint Michael and Gabriel and the Cherubim. These heavenly messengers descend not only to bear the soul of the ulti­ mately, and ironically, victorious Roland to paradise, but also to provide an



illumination for the audience, the only “living” presence remaining on the battlefield at the moment of Roland’s death. This illumination has been pre­ pared not by the “voice like a trumpet” which spoke to Saint John in Revela­ tion 4:1, but quite literally by the voice of the trumpet, the horn episodes that mark the final stages of Roland’s battle.36 This revelation is not “of what is to come in the future” (Revelation 4:1), but of the circularity of Christian time in which man’s history signified only to the extent that it could be shown to be an exemplary rewriting of soteriology. A Dialectics of Predication: (Mis)Naming Roncevaux Most readers tend to overlook the fact that the Battle of Roncevaux begins as a rhetorical predication by the combatants. The Saracen warriors are the first to name the place where the battle will occur, and they do so in a series of speeches which not only project a scenario for the impending battle, but also interpret the purpose and meaning of the fight. Laisses 69–78 recount the choosing of the twelve Saracen peers to oppose the twelve peers of France. The laisses contain a number of speeches by the Saracen protagonists, and it is in these discourses that the name of the battle site, Rencesvals, occurs for the first time, always in the context of a discourse predication by a Saracen hero of the exploits he will perform “en Rencesvals.” In a series of parallel laisses, almost all of the twelve Saracen peers predicate their role in the impending battle and predict its outcome: Roland will be killed, the Franks defeated, and Charlemagne disgraced. Immediately following this scene, in laisse 78, the focus shifts to the Frank­ish camp at Roncevaux, and specifically to the well-known debate between Roland and Oliver as to whether or not Roland should sound the olifant. Al­though this scene has received much attention, it has not been taken in its full context as a sequel to the series of hypothetical predications by the Saracen warriors. But what are Roland and Oliver engaged in, if not a similar kind of projection of meaning onto the battlefield before them? While Roland and Oliver, as Christians, may claim to be closer to the Spirit of Truth than their pagan counterparts, each of them, too, sees through a glass darkly and com­mits the same basic error of interpretation as the Saracen heroes, using the same kind of literal vision. Their identification of Roncevaux as site is as much of a misnomer as the Saracens’. The full meaning of the ironic perspective which undercuts the predication of Saracen and Christian alike would be attenuated if the locus of their projec­tion, Roncevaux, were not, like Golgotha, already a known valence to their audience. Thanks to this discrepancy, the audience could perceive the irony inherent in the erroneous belief of the combatants that God’s purpose mani­fested itself in the appearance of an event, instead of in the meaning.



But a distinction must be made between the misreading of the event by the Saracens and that by Roland and Oliver. The Saracens could not possibly per­ceive truth, let alone express it, because they neither believe in nor know its language. They could see only the literal, empirical world, speaking always within the epistemological framework of the period. Each of the Saracens sees Roland primarily as a historical agent with no symbolic or spiritual valence. By effacing the defender of the “lei franceise,” they believe that the law itself will be destroyed. They make the same mis­take, in other words, as the Foolish Virgins and the heretics we discussed in chapter 1 when they relegate the material and the spiritual to two separate and unconnected spheres. In doing do, they lay the foundation for the ironic rever­sal of their predication in the same way and for the same reasons as the chief priests in the Gospel accounts of the Passion. By crying, “Crucify him!” or, in this case, “Kill him!” they announce not the end but the beginning of the story. “Jo cunduirai mun cors en Rencesvals, Se truis Rollant, ne lerrai que nel mat!”


[“I’m off for Roncevaux, / If I find Roland, I shall not fail to bring him low.”] “En Rencesvals guierai ma cumpaigne, .XX milie ad escuz e a lances. Se trois Rollant, de mort li duins fiance, Jamais n’ert jor que Carles ne se pleignet.” AOI


[“I’ll lead my troops to Roncevaux, / Twenty thousand with shields and lances. / If I find Roland, I give my oath that he shall die, / Never again will there be a day that Charles does not lament.”] “En Rencesvals irai mun cors juër; Se truis Rollant, de mort serat finet E Oliver e tuz les .XII. pers. Franceis murrunt a doel et a viltiet. Carles li magnes velz est et redotez, Recreanz ert de sa guerre mener, Si nus remeindrat Espaigne en quitedat.”


[“I’ll risk my life at Roncevaux; / If I find Roland, he shall be put to death / With Oliver and all the Twelve Peers. / The French shall suffer an agonizing and shameful death. / Charlemagne is old and decrepit. / He will forsake the war he is waging, / He will abandon Spain to us and leave us in peace.”]

The measure of error in these discourses and others like them is easily taken, but the manner in which error is conveyed alerts the audience to the deductive fallacy at work, an awareness that will help it understand the more subtle fallaciousness in the predications of the Christian heroes. Each dis­course advances a fact known by



the audience—through its cultural exposure to the Charlemagne mythos, as well as to the work itself—to be true, for ex­ample, “Charlemagne is old,” but then draws from this fact a conclusion known to be false, for example, “Charlemagne is…[also] decrepit.” Thus, the French may be going to die painfully, but they certainly will not die shame­fully, as the last-quoted discourse claims; Roland will indeed die at Ronce­vaux, but not because he has been found and killed by these Saracens. The iconic value of the site has yet to be established by the narrative, but already there are certain potentialities of the story that would be untenable for an audience whose social enculturation had taught it that Roncevaux, Charlemagne, Roland, and Turpin signified positive virtues. These values might be refined, extended, and otherwise glossed; they could not be contro­verted. Recognizing this, the narrative marks the divergence between Saracen dis­ course and known mythic valence according to an axis of truth or falsehood. Each Saracen forcefully projects his presence onto the battlefield by means of verbs cast in the future of the indicative: “En Rencesvals irai mun cors juër” (1. 901); “En Rencesvals guierai ma cumpaigne” (1. 912); but the predication of the deeds to be done there is prefaced by the “se” (“if ”) of hypothetical dis­course. The divergence between what the audience knows to be true, drawing upon its collective view of the past, and what the characters hypothesize as future truth can never be greater than in these discourses. They serve to alert the audience, however, to the possibility of ironic distancing of character and au­dience, a technique to be exploited with ever greater subtlety in the subse­quent sections. We do not have to wait long to see this technique used with greater com­ plexity. Roland and Oliver both fall victim to the same kind of misprision as the Saracens, but with graver consequences. They, too, mistake material man­ifestation for spiritual meaning, the historic for the anagogic, as Oliver looks out over the plain at Roncevaux to see “Tanz blancs osbercs, tanz elmes flam­bius!” (1. 1022; So many gleaming hauberks, so many blazing helmets!). Theirs is not the conscious error of the unbeliever, the detester of truth, but the error of those Christians too enmeshed in material things, and who, con­sequently, cannot fully apprehend divine purpose, as Saint Augustine pointed out, because they do not “look and question”; or who, having looked and ques­tioned, do not understand because they have not compared what “they have taken in from outside with the truth within them.”37 For Augustine, as for Eriugena, knowledge derived from an inner, agonistic processing of external data, not from remaining at the simple level of empiri­ cal observation. The first horn episode between Roland and Oliver constitutes a kind of parody of the empirical looking and questioning without understand­ing described by Augustine in the above quotation. Both Roland and Oliver look and question, but at different things and on different levels. Oliver stands atop the hill looking out at the Saracens. We “see”



the Saracen hordes as a presence through his direct and indirect dis­course in laisses 80…83. In contrast, Roland refuses to mount the hill to look at the Saracens; instead, he contemplates the Franks and their meaning. Seeing and questioning provide the basic structure for the scene, thus plac­ ing it in sharp contrast to the previous one where blind assertion prevailed. The discourse of the two French heroes differentiates itself from that of the Saracens by the rhetorical model it illustrates. Whereas the latter took the gab, a vain, boasting discourse, for its model, Roland and Oliver’s speeches utilize disputatio, a technique of rational dialectic.” Disputatio as found, for ex­ample, in Abelard’s Sic et Non may aid in creating the conditions for finding truth, but it is no guarantee. So here, although the givens of the problem are clearly exposed, each disputant errs in looking but not “seeing,” although it is Roland, as we know from the meaning of the site, who will ultimately be vindicated, but through God’s mercy and only after he has undergone a more profound search for the meaning of the battle. Ocular evidence of the site and of the Saracen host is one of the important products of this scene. Although we find nowhere near so detailed a descrip­tion of the terrain as in the Guide, we do find the familiar evocation of moun­tains and valleys, here used to stress the overwhelming numbers of the Sara­cen host. This serves not only as a realistic matter for the debate, but also to emphasize the sheer superiority of numbers that will eventually overwhelm the majority of the rear guard, but which, in a miraculous reversal akin to the suspension of the sun’s course when Charlemagne returns, Roland’s and Tur­pin’s faith will put to flight at the climax of the third horn episode. We have seen that the theme of numerical superiority of the enemy has been a given of the Roncevaux mythos from the time of the Royal Frankish Annal­ist. Its evocation in the Roland—Oliver debate, therefore, constitutes a fact whose truth value is known to the audience and has only to be activated and confirmed by the narrative. “Jo al vent les sarrazins d’Espaigne, Cuverz en sunt li val e les muntaignes E li lariz e tretutes les plaignes. Granz sunt les oz de cele gent estrange, Nus i avum mult petite cumpaigne.” [1083–87] [“I have seen the Saracens from Spain, / The valleys and mountains are covered with them, / The hillsides, too, and all the plains. / The armies of that foreign people are huge, / We have a mighty small company.”]

Oliver’s speech demonstrates the same opposition between reality and un­ reality that marked the Saracen discourse, but in this case the reason is false logic, at least within the context of the Christian episteme. “They are many, but



we are few” is a concrete fact, a textual corroboration of the mythos. But Oliver casts it in such a way that it could also be construed as a psychological fact, and therefore a factor in the reasoning which leads him to argue for the recall of Charlemagne. More importantly, in terms of the dialectic between this scene and the previous one, it appears to be an extension of the same kind of reasoning used by the Saracens: “Franceis murrunt e France en ert deserte.” A icez moz li .XII. per s’alient. Itels .C. milie Sarrazins od els meinent Ki de bataille s’arguënt e hasteient, Vunt s’aduber desuz une sapide.


[“The French shall die and France will be deserted.” / As soon as he has spoken, the Twelve Peers assemble. / They take a hundred thousand Saracens along with them, / Who jostle and prod one another in their eagerness to start the battle, / They go arm themselves in a pine grove.]

Just as the Saracens do not calculate the spiritual reinforcement available to the Christians from their faith, so Oliver’s equation, “They are many, but we are few,” ignores this dimension. Throughout the debate Oliver insists on the concrete, purely military interpretation: “Fust i le reis, n’i oüssum damage” (1. 1102; Were the king here, we would have suffered no harm). Roland, on the .other hand, consistently and with variety appeals to a pro­ gressively more elaborate framework of spiritual and metaphysical values that reinforce the Franks, making them superior to the Saracens. Yet he too commits the “materialist” fallacy, albeit a slightly more spiritual version of it, by insisting that the battle will be primarily a human affair, little different from others they have fought. Not once does he entertain the possibility of their mortality. The predications of Roland and Oliver are necessarily on an infinitely more profound level than those of the Saracens in the previous scene. On the out­come of this debate rests the interpretation of the spiritual meaning of Ron­cevaux, or, rather, it is the second step in the process of establishing that value—one of the primary projects of the work. This fact, as in the case of the Saracen discourses, allows the audience to make a provisional and immediate evaluation of the arguments advanced by the two Frankish heroes. Oliver’s reasoning grounds itself on empirical observation and envisions a purely material resolution of the situation: “Cumpainz Rollant, kar sunez vostre corn, Si l’orrat Caries, si returnerat l’ost.” [1051–52] [“Comrade Roland, do sound your horn, / Charles will hear it and the army will turn back.”]



“Cumpainz Rollant, l’olifant car sunez, Si l’orrat Caries, ferat l’ost returner, Succurrat nos li reis od sun barnet.”


[“Comrade Roland, do sound the oliphant, / Charles will hear it and he will make the army turn back, / The King with all his knights will come to our assistance.”] “Cumpainz Rollant, sunez vostre olifan, Si l’orrat Caries, ki est as porz passant. Je vos plevis, ja returnerunt Franc.”


[“Comrade Roland, sound your oliphant, / Charles, who is going through the pass, will hear it. / Then, I promise you, the Franks will return.”

To act upon the logic of Oliver’s predication would be to condemn the Chris­ tian-Saracen encounter at Roncevaux to the status of one of the innumerable border skirmishes mentioned in chronicles of the period, but whose details and significance have long since been lost.39 More importantly, in terms of the Roncevaux mythos, Oliver’s reasoning represents an impossibility, an abstract— rather than a concrete-potential: if it were followed, Roncevaux would then have no potency as a site or as a text—and we have seen that the two are coextensive. This does not mean that Oliver’s role in the debate is without significance—far from it—but it does mean that the emphasis of the debate must fall on Roland’s discourses, his predications, which are longer, more varied, and less divergent from the mythic valence of place. It is through Roland’s predications that we begin to see the textual valorization of Roncevaux as a site of universal significance, especially when his arguments are measured against the Saracen predications of the previous section. Like the Saracen heroes, Roland, too, rhetorically projects meaning onto the battlefield. Unlike the Saracens, however, Roland envisages the impending ac­tion in a temporal framework that goes beyond the mere present; he assumes a future audience for whom the battle will have significance. In so doing, of course, he demonstrates a world view in which the idea of historia, of inte­riority as a significant component of the meaning of the present, is of prime importance. Even in the narrative present, then, the narrative future, when the battle will have become a song about the battle, is foreseen: “Or guart chascuns que granz colps i empleit Que malvaise cançun de nus chantet ne seit! Paien unt tort e chrestÏens unt dreit. Malvaise essample n’en serat ja de mei.” AOI [1013–16]



[“Now let everyone take care to strike great blows / So that bad songs not be sung about us! / Pagans are wrong, Christians are right. / I shall never be cited as a bad example.”] “Malvaise cançun”/”malvaise essample”: these terms establish a definite progression in the levels of consciousness of the battle potential expressed by the characters. The Saracens envisage no possibility of a negative outcome of the battle; Oliver raises the spectre of a purely military one, “vencuz,” “dam­ age.” Only Roland raises the hermeneutic question, as it were; only he sees the impending battle in terms of textual potential: good song versus bad song. If the Saracens seek to destroy the Word, Roland wants to assure it. Hence it is Roland, in this first section, who evokes the index potential of the battle-as-­text. Historical event by itself has no hermeneutic valence; only when trans­posed into text can it attain levels of meaning. Rodolphus Glaber set forth the principle of history-as-exemplum by which the world of time and man, on the one hand, and the celestial world to come, on the other, may be conjoined and presented to consciousness by means of textualization. According to this view, the historical events of the world, when set down in writing, constitute a microcosm which will reveal how all things in the world, especially when viewed as a structure similar to the structure of the Gospels, are placed at the service of man in order that he may discover a knowledge of God and the process by which faith insinuates itself into man’s soul.40 Roland’s discourses demonstrate a consciousness not found in the predica­ tions of the other characters in this section, an awareness of the event-as-an­ teriority, the event-as-exemplum, precisely the characteristic identified by Er­ iugena and Rodolphus Glaber as the message of John’s Passion Gospel.41 Roland, then, stands out from the other characters as the only one for whom the battle site possesses alterity, for whom it represents a potential text-site. By asserting that their actions will be observed and judged, Roland implicitly calls attention to other texts of the event. In this connection, it is impor­tant to note that the Guide’s account of Roland’s passion and death, quoted earlier, resembles his own account of the reasons for and hardships of battle, particularly in his emphasis on suffering extremes of cold and heat and bodily scourging: “Ben devuns ci estre pur nostre rei: Pur sun seignor deit horn susfrir destreiz E endurer e granz chalz e granz freiz, Sin deit horn perdre e del quir e del peil.”


[“We must make a stand here for our king: / One must suffer hardships for one’s lord / And endure great heat and great cold, / One must also lose hide and hair.]



Yet we can see here why Roland, like the others, remains too much con­ cerned with the material world. For, if Oliver’s discourses resemble the Sara­ cens’ by his emphasis on purely physical matters, Roland’s resembles theirs in his exalted prediction of the exploits he and the Franks will accomplish on the battlefield: “Quant jo serai en la bataille grant E jo ferrai e mil colps e .VII. cenz, De Durendal verrez l’acer sanglent. Franceis sunt bon, si ferrunt vassalment, ja cil d’Espaigne n’avrunt de mort guarant.”


[“When I shall be in the great battle, / Striking a thousand and seven hundred blows, / You’ll see Durendal’s steel all bloody. / The French are good, they will strike courageously, / Those from Spain shall have no safeguard against death.”]

There are important differences between Roland’s discourse and that of the Saracens, however. Whereas the Saracen predictions are introduced by the hy­ pothetical marker “se” (if), Roland’s are marked by the temporal conjunction “quant,” (when). The future tense still marks them as hypothetical, but the awareness of event-as-anteriority already introduced by Roland and corrobo­rated by the audience’s knowledge of the event invests his predication with the certitude of historical fact: the audience, believing in the historicity of the event, could believe that this was, in effect, what did happen. Roland’s heroic assertions function at two levels of temporality: future from his perspective, anterior from the audience’s. This dual perspective, the same frame which allowed the audience to reject the Saracen predictions, works to confirm Roland’s claims; they are not falsifiable: every single claim made by Roland will come true. On the other hand, we know that Roland’s predictions will not be realized in the way he now thinks. The context in which he advances his claims, a context of total military victory, aided by God, is as erroneous an interpreta­tion of the Roncevaux mythos as Oliver’s or Chernuble’s. Measured against the “architext” of Scripture, Roland’s predication shows him making the same mistake as the disciples and followers of Christ, who took the triumphal entry into Jerusalem for the real triumph to come at Golgotha. Without the opposi­tion between apparent worldly defeat and real spiritual triumph, there can be no sacralization of site. By intending Roncevaux as a worldly victory, without the epistemological valence of the victor-as-victim theme that invested the Guide’s account, Ro­land demonstrates that he has yet to attain the knowledge of the martyr who understands the oppositional interplay of triumph and humiliation necessary



for salvation.42 As yet, he grasps only the importance of the event, not its sig­ nificance. This suggests that the narrative strategy of the work derives not from any intention to represent simply what was known of the event, but from a more subtle and exemplary purpose: to represent the unfolding conscious­ness of the principal character regarding the event and, in so doing, to render its significance evident to the audience. The exemplary model is that of the education of the martyr, the gradual weaning away of the warrior from his single-minded pursuit of battle for its own sake, or for the sake of purely secular concerns. The martyr’s knowledge tells him that the significance of the event comes only with the death that will transform life into text, neutral ontological fact into intentional textual sign. “All texts are preterite,” Walter Ong has recently said. “Unlike utterance, a text is assimilated…after its utterance (its ‘outering’) is over with. A text is not a living potential in the human interior…. [I]t is a thing out of the past.”43 Roland, the one character who has raised the issue of textualization (“malvaise cançun”/”malvaise essample,” 11. 1014, 1016), will have completed his self-­predication/self-realization only when he comes to recognize that his futurity must coincide with the story’s anteriority: in the closure of death as textual­ized life that marked Christ’s selfpredication (John 1:23–28). As it is, Roland still believes in the possibility of the traditional heroic as­ sertion, an attitude necessary for the literal postulation of the battle at this juncture. For the narrator and the audience, secure in their foreknowledge of the event, this possibility may be viewed only through the filter of ironic dis­tancing: Rollant est proz e Oliver est sage: Ambedui unt merveillus vasselage, Puis que il sunt as chevals e as armes, Ja pur murir n’eschiverunt bataille; Bon sunt li cunte e lur paroles haltes.


[Roland is worthy and Oliver is wise: / Both have amazing courage, /Since they are mounted and armed, / They will not shrink from battle even if it means death; / Both counts are worthy and their words noble.]

The dialectic of events will oblige Roland to probe more deeply for the mean­ ing of the battle in the next phase.

A Dialectics of Predication: Turning Point From the end of the first horn debate to the beginning of the second, in laisse 127, the physiognomy of the battle undergoes a profound change. It begins well enough,



for Roland, at laisse 93, on a note of ironic reversal of the boastful predications made earlier by the Saracens. Laisses 93–108 recount the first victorious phase of the battle for the Franks. In this section, Roland’s predications appear to be on the way to successful realization, for from laisse 93 to 104 the twelve Saracen peers meet their Frankish counterparts in single combat. One by one, in exactly the same order as in the original sequence of discourse predication, the twelve Saracen peers go down to defeat in a physical disconfirmation of their earlier assertions. Roland kills the first and last of them; Oliver and Turpin defeat the second and third, and Oliver downs the penultimate one as well. The last of the Sar­acen peers, Chernuble, must go to Roland, for, in the earlier discourse predica­tion sequence, Chernuble had given an explicit description of how he would kill Roland with his sword: Ce dist Chernubles: “Ma bone espee ai ceinte, En Rencesvals jo la teindrai vermeille. Se trois Rollant li proz enmi ma veie, Se ne l’asaill, dunc ne faz jo que creire. Si cunquerrai Durendal od la meie.”


[Chernuble said: “I am wearing my good sword, / I shall stain it red at Roncevaux. / If I find worthy Roland in my path I And do not attack him, then may I not be worthy of belief. / But I shall conquer Durendal with my sword.”]

In laisse 104 the two warriors do meet, and the narrative emphasizes the skill with which Roland uses his sword, mentioned by name, to vanquish the Saracen. It would be difficult to imagine a more forcefully ironic negation of Chernuble’s original boast—nor, taking it as a metonymy, for the very enter­prise of Saracen logocentrism—than this passage, especially when we recall that Chernuble’s sword, the chief ornament of his original discourse, never leaves its scabbard. With the death of Chernuble, the negation of the Saracen boasts has been accomplished. Franks and Saracens have been distinguished not only in physi­cal terms, by the superiority of the Frankish peers over their Saracen counter­parts, but also in terms of the effectiveness of their language: the Franks com­ment on what they have accomplished, whereas the Saracens engage in vain predictions. Valorization of word and deed thus constitutes an important part of the Christian world view, distinguishing it from the pagan, just as it is a major part of the textual strategy of the Chanson. Having made the point that the Saracens cannot, of their own volition, predicate Frankish defeat, the text now begins to deal with the basic mythic given of the site: the death of the rear guard. At this point, laisses 109–10, occurs the longest authorial intervention to date in the Roncevaux episode. As often with



laisses similaires, these two laisses mark an important transition. Here, for the first time, the author reveals the extent of the military disaster at Roncevaux. The transformation of the physical situation of the Franks from triumph to disaster occurs without the implication of shame or dishonor that marked the narration of the Saracen reversals. At the purely historical level, it appears as a function of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, the odds evoked by the Saracens themselves, and by Oliver at the beginning of the episode. Significantly, given the movement of the narrative toward the symbolic and anagogic, the defeat appears only partially the result of physical circum­stances; or, rather, the physical circumstances serve as the agent of a more sinister force. The first phase of the battle proved that the Saracens, by them­selves, could not predicate Christian defeat. Now, however, as things turn against the Franks, another form of discourse enters the picture: the language of treachery. The defeat appears not as confirmation of the Saracen ability to predicate the world, but as a betrayal of the Christian world view analogous to what the heretics at Orleans attempted in Rodolphus Glaber’s account. The factor of treachery marked the narration from early in the poem—from the moment Ganelon was introduced, in fact. Treachery is an element of the mythos of the site found in the earliest evocation of the disaster in the Pyrenees recounted in the Royal Frankish Annals. Now, however, it ceases to be simply an element of the historia and begins to function as theoria, or com­mentary, by undergoing homologization with the Christian paradigm of trea­son: the betrayal of Christ by Judas: Malvais servis le jur li rendit Guenes Qu’en Sarraguce sa maisnee alat vendre. Puis en perdit e sa vie e ses membres, El plait ad Ais en fut juget a pendre, De ses parenz ensembl’od lui tels trente Ki de murir nen ourent esperence. AOI


[Ganelon rendered him (Charlemagne) ill service on the day / That he went to sell the members of his household at Saragossa. / Later he lost his life and limbs, / In the trial at Aix, he was sentenced to be hanged, / Along with thirty of his relatives, / Who were not expecting to die.]

The correlation of Ganelon with Judas—explicitly equated in the PseudoTurpin, as we saw in the last chapter—occurs here by the subtler device of associational signs: selling his condisciples, the twelve peers, hanging, and the number thirty. But even though the Oxford text shows more restraint in evok­ing the Judas archetype, its emotional significance is no less powerful, to say the least. The emotional valence of Judas’s treason was one of the elements of height­ened connotation emphasized by the first vernacular Passion, that of Cler­mont-Ferrand.



In light of Brault’s observation that “the devil’s presence is al­ways acutely felt when the Saracens are around,”44 we might bear in mind that there could hardly have been a more graphic contemporary evocation of the devil’s physical presence and transforming power than that based on the pos­session of Judas by Satan (John 13: 21–30), as rendered by the Clermont-Fer­rand Passion. De pan et yin sanctificat toz sos fidels i saciet, Mais que Judes Escharioh, cui una sopa enflet lo cor: Judas cum og manjed la sopa, diable sen enz en sa gola; semper leved del piu manjar, tot als Judeus o vai nuncer.



[All of his faithful followers took the sanctified bread and wine, except Judas Isca­riot, whose body was bloated by a crust. / After he had eaten the crust, the devil entered him through his snout. Immediately, he got up from the pious meal and went quickly to betray Christ to the Jews.]

Although Ganelon’s treason is not a new factor in the narrative, having been evoked from the moment he enters the story—”Guenes i vint, ki la traïson fist” (1. 178)—it is the first time the treason has been linked to an emotional assessment of the impending disaster; it is also the first time that the function of Ganelon has been explicitly linked to its archetype: Judas’s betrayal of Christ. It appears here as the last item in a laisse devoted to the general mourn­ing of the Franks for the loss of the rear guard, and as a prelude to the next laisse, 110, in which the cosmic consequences of Roland’s death—in terms patterned on the cosmic manifestations attendant upon Christ’s passing—are evoked as a specific prediction of the Paladin’s demise exactly sixty-six laisses before it occurs (the christological number symbolism can scarcely be gratui­tous). Why should there be so explicit an emphasis in the two laisses on the emo­tional response of the Franks and Charlemagne to the death of Roland and the peers in a context where Ganelon is equated to Judas? The answer lies in the dynamics of the Passion. In the last chapter we saw that the conjoined elements of witness and emo­tional response are essential constituents of a Passion in eleventh- and twelfth-century art and literature. They underscore the role of mourning, which was considered crucial in establishing the concreteness of Christ’s death as a reciprocal implication of his resurrection: there could be no resur­rection in the flesh without a real death. Mourning signified the reality of that death; witnesses accomplished the dual purpose of mourning and attestation. Furthermore, the witnesses in the Passion



scene served as mediaries for the spectators; as interpreters within the text, as it were, for the response which the poetic image is meant to elicit from the audience. We find the same dynamic in the laisses before us. The mourning of the witnesses within the text, Charlemagne and the families of the Frankish he­roes, creates a phatic level of discourse, prominently stressed, which provides a perspectival extension, in the scene itself, of the consequences of the im­pending action. For the documentation of the historical dimension, this mi­mesis of mourning conveys the participatory feeling: “This really happened; the people are very upset.” From that observation to the notion, “This really happened for our salvation, to save our church and shrines from the pagans,” there remains a gap. It is to fill that intervening space, to make the message immediate to the audience, that the emotional valence of the Passion is called upon. By evoking the Ganelon-Judas and Christ-Roland links, the text begins to infuse the po­etic images with resonances associated with the Passion and to which the au­dience could respond predictably. The two narratives were thus linked affec­tively through the audience’s conditioned response to the Passion analogy, a crucial constituent of the second-stage narrative. It was the pathos of the Pas­sion, rather than the theological concept, that was to provide the common ground in the two narratives.45 A Dialectics of Predication: The Voice of the Trumpet By laisse 127, all of the details of the battle which previously bore only a monovalent military connotation now possess a spiritual significance as well. No longer is the Saracen simply an enemy; he has become the devil himself, the one with whom Ganelon made his Satanic bargain, sealing it with a kiss, an inverted reference to the kiss Judas bestowed on Christ as the sign of his betrayal. Saragossa, the one stronghold Charlemagne had not conquered, as the first laisse made clear, has become the seat of Satanic influence. There can no longer be any question of incorporating it within the Christian framework; it must be destroyed and refounded: Un Sarrazin i out de Sarraguce, De la citet l’une meitet est sue, Ço est Climborins, ki pas ne fut produme. Fiance prist de Guenelun le cunte, Par amistiet l’en baisat en la buche, Si l’en dunat sun helme e s’escarbuncle. Tere Major, ço dit, metrat a hunte, A l’emperere si toldrat la curone.


[There was a Saracen there from Saragossa, / Half of the city is his, / It is Climborin, who was not a man of honor. / He took Count Ganelon’s oath,



/ He kissed him on the mouth as a sign of friendship, / He also gave him his helmet and his carbuncle. / He will, he says, cover the Fatherland with shame, / And take the Emperor’s crown away from him.]

But concurrent with this conclusion comes the admission that the Frankish rear guard no longer constitutes a force sufficient to realize this task. We learn that the Franks resisted four assaults by the combined Saracen forces, but that the fifth overwhelmed them, so that now only sixty of the rear guard remain. While the theme of Frankish valor persists, it is overlaid by insistence on their suffering. Roland faces the facts and, like the homo eruditus, prepares to admit the fallibility of his earlier vision. He accepts the necessity of revealing the plight of the Frankish rear guard to Charlemagne—the agent of light: “Karles si est a dire ‘lumeire de char”46 —so that the ultimate goal of the geste may be achieved. From this point on, Ro­land and Charlemagne thus work to realize, in the world, divine purpose. Agents of revelation, like the Wise Virgins in Eriugena’s metaphor, they apply the “lamp of the mind” to resolve the crisis at hand. From this stage on, Roland progressively acquires the value of the homo eruditus ascribed to him in the Pseudo-Turpin and symbolized by the tradi­tional troping of his name as “scroll or text of wisdom”: “Rollans vaut autre­tant a dire comme ‘roles de sciance.’”47 We should note, however, that the recognition of his earlier fallibility does not come abruptly in laisse 127, at the beginning of the second horn debate. At the beginning of the second phase of the battle, in laisse 112, Marsile leads a huge army through the valley toward the Franks. “Seven thousand bugles sound the charge,” making a deafening sound. Roland immediately under­stands this, not as an immediate physical manifestation, but as a signification of Roncevaux as the Frankish passionsite and Ganelon as the agent of treason. Ço dist Rollant: “Oliver, compaign, frere, Guenes li fels ad nostre mort juree, La traisun ne poet estre celee. Mult grant venjance en prendrat l’emperere.”


[Roland said: “Oliver, companion, brother, / Ganelon the traitor has sealed our death, / His treason cannot be hidden, / The Emperor will take great vengeance for this.”]

In laisse 80, when Oliver accused Ganelon of treason, Roland rejected theaccusation on the grounds of family loyalty. At that point, he had not accepted the concept of Roncevaux as their passionsite. Now, however, he does see and accepts the consequences, just as Christ, the betrayed, foresaw and accepted the consequences of his betrayal.



The note of community in Roland’s speech, of societas (“compaign, frère…nostre mort”), reinforces the concept of a confraternity betrayed by one whose act—the betrayal of the societas and Lex—has the ironically opposite effect of what was intended. Instead of destroying the society and its Law, the betrayal reinforces it the betrayed take their death upon themselves as an example: “Bataille avrum e forte e aduree, Unches mais horn tel ne vit ajustee, Jo i ferrai de Durendal, m’espee, E vos, compainz, ferrez de Halteclere. En tanz lius les avum nos portees! Tantes batailles en avum afinees! Male chancun n’en deit estre cantee.” AOI [1460–66] [“We shall have a bitter and hard-fought battle, / Never has anyone seen such an encounter. / I shall strike with my sword, Durendal, / And you, comrade, strike with Halteclere. / We’ve carried them in so many places! /Ended so many battles with them! / Unworthy songs must not be sung about them.”]

Reversing his earlier attitude, Roland here rallies his men to fight to and for the end, their end. Like Christ in the Conversation with Nicodemus, he ac­cepts the necessity of death as the secret of life, textual life, the only kind open to the epic hero. This time when Roland urges Oliver to fight valiantly so that “male chançun” will not be sung about them, it is in full recognition that the ending envisaged, the alinement, will not be the ending of the battle ­“tantes batailles en avum afinees!”— but the closure of a text, the story of their life. The textualization and revelation envisaged here cannot occur if the situa­tion of the Franks remains concealed, as Oliver urges repeatedly during the second horn episode. Once again, he remains at the level of appearances when, like the Saracens, he equates their reduced and weakened state to dishonor. For Oliver, the literalist, only the physical triumph of sound fighting forces seems to count: Jamais Karlon de nus n’avrat servise. ……………………………………. Vostre proëce, Rollant, mar la veimes! Karles li magnes de nos n’avrat aïe. N’ert mais tel home desqu’a Deu juïse. Vos i murrez e France en ert hunie.

[1727, 1731–34]

[We shall never again be of service to Charles. /…A bad thing for us, Roland, has been your prowess! / Charlemagne will have no more help from us. / Never again until Judgment Day shall there be such a man (as he)! / You will die here and France will be dishonored.]



Oliver’s despair arises from his having already resigned himself not just to his death—he is not a coward—but to his dishonor and to the ultimate defeat of the whole Frankish army. He already speaks of Charlemagne as though he were dead (1. 1733). By his own admission in both debates, Oliver has a limited tolerance for risk: “Kar vasselage par sens nen est folie” (1. 1724; There is no folly in sensi­ble heroics). Like the Saracens, Oliver predicates a faith based upon material surety. The dialectical position he advances rests on an error that Augustine exposed when he argued that, as may be seen in Job, the strength of Christian faith must be in direct inverse correlation to the material reasons for predicat­ing it.48 Like Job in his despair, Oliver wants to go back in time to wars that are gone and days when Charlemagne did not seem so far away. Like Job, he feels that now he is covered with ridicule and shame (Job 30: 1 ), and as Job accuses God, “I know it is to death that you are taking me” (30: 23), so Oliver accuses Roland, “Franceis sunt morz par vostre legerie” (1. 1726; The Franks are dead because of your senselessness). In the dialectics of man’s attempt to fathom God’s knowledge as outlined by Saint Augustine in chapter 28 of book 10 of The Confessions, Oliver’s situa­tion is plotted. It is the normal recoiling of the Christian from the life of trial and warfare imposed by God on man in the search for His knowledge. What man wants trouble and hardship? You command that they be endured, not that they be liked. No man likes what he endures….[H]e prefers rather that there be nothing to endure. In the midst of adversities, I desire prosperous days; in the midst of prosperity, I dread adversity. Between these two, is there no middle ground where the life of man is not a trial?49

God’s answer, as given in Job and as elaborated by Saint Augustine, is clear: in the life of faith there can be no easy way, no middle ground. The disconfirma­tion of Oliver’s position at the level of theoria rests on a very firm tradition of Christian scripture, and it is that tradition which Roland’s actions and Tur­pin’s commentary will mediate in the remainder of this scene and in the third and final sequence of the Roncevaux episode. Laisse 132, immediately following Oliver’s discourse, introduces the ele­ment that opposes this debate to the first one, raising it to a new level of signification and indicating the distance that has been traveled in developing the meaning of site since the beginning of the episode. It is at this point that Turpin intervenes, the Turpin who has been consistently valorized during the first two phases of this sequence. At this moment, the two narrative threads, the manifest one of historical denotation and the immanent one of anagogical connotation, begin to converge. Turpin is the first character within the poem to predicate the real, historical valence of Roncevaux and the metaphoric role of the trumpet as revelation. In laisse



132 he ends the debate between Oliver and Roland by asserting that while sounding the horn can bring the rear guard no material aid, it is the best course, for it will bring Charlemagne back to renew the battle and bring about the final defeat of the Saracens (11. 1742–45). Contemporary commentaries on Revelation equated the trumpets of the Apocalypse with the predication of the Church triumphant, the weight and force of the Law.50 Turpin clearly recog­nizes the symbolic nature of the impending confrontation between Charlemagne and Baligant and becomes the first person to postulate the olifant as a complex signified and signifier. That he should perceive at once the historic and the anagogic significance of the trumpet, its textual and intertextual va­lence, naturally befits his sacerdotal office, which, especially in his function as warrior archbishop, operates on both planes. In the second part of the laisse he introduces the theme of death and burial: the decorous transition from this world to the next (11. 1746–51). The main army, he declares, will return to seek out and give proper burial to the rear guard. In short, it will establish Roncevaux as an important necropolis for those Franks who died defending the faith. Turpin’s predication is the first one to be uttered at the level of récit which will subsequently be ratified literally rather than ironically. It also coincides point by point with the connotation of locus, the site Roncevaux that we saw to have existed by the early twelfth century. Most importantly, however, Turpin articulates the whole concept of Ronce­vaux as revelation. And immediately following his speech, Roland puts the olifant to his mouth to sound it for the first time. The Olifant in Text and Context Three laisses describe Roland’s blowing of the horn. Each one stresses a differ­ent aspect of the action. The longest of them, the second one (laisse 134), provides vivid details of the physical cost to Roland of the effort needed to perform this truly superhuman act; an act so numinous, in fact, that the text treats it with unaccustomed self-consciousness. The importance of the horn blasts to the course of the narrative at this point, and the fact that, in blowing the horn, Roland wounds himself mortally, inscribe this act on the literal level of the récit so indelibly that the reader tends to miss the significance of the “language of the horn.” Roland’s gesture in sounding the horn three times cannot simply be seen as a detail of the narrative like so many others. Too much emphasis has been placed on the sounding of the horn, both in this episode and in the one at the beginning of the battle, for it to be read only—as Oliver would have it—on the literal level. The divine origin of the horn and the ultimate disposition of the olifant in the poem both argue an index value to this sign far greater than its purely literal function would warrant. We recall, for example, that after Roland’s death it is borne into the final battle as the Frankish standard (laisse 217).



We have already seen the importance granted to the olifant by the Guide and the extent of its contribution in that text to the site value of Roncevaux. Clearly the horn must have been a more complex signifier in the eleventh and twelfth centuries than we recognize today. To understand the language of the olifant in the Oxford version—and its contribution to the theosis of Roland—it might be helpful to examine the complex of intertextual allusions that con­tribute to the textual signification of this sign. In his commentary on these laisses, Gerard Brault observed that the sound­ing of the horn is at once a de profundis (Psalm 130) and an association with the “Last Judgment trumpet at whose fearful sound the dead would rise from the grave to meet their Maker.”51 While these allusions may indeed be apposite, we can identify a much more tightly knit connotation system of horn imagery in the Old and New Testaments. This rich fund of horn symbolism in theophanic, messianic, and Apocalypse texts equates the horn with revelation and deliverance; in short, with the symbolic role of Christ as protector and deliverer of the faithful from God’s enemies. In Revelation, the trumpet and sword together become the literal and figurative language seen and heard by John, and subsequently interpreted as the warriors of the Church Militant who do battle against Antichrist and the agents of Satan.52 In contemplating the language of the horn, we need to remember that in this period the ages of the world were reckoned in “Apocalypse Time,” whereby historic periods appeared as different stages in the evolution of “the hostile world.” Biblical and historical leaders such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Con­stantine, and Charlemagne could be seen as prefigurations of or successors to Christ as deliverer and protector of the faithful from the various forms of An­tichrist. They became the eponymous markers for a cosmic chronology of op­position between Word and world that ran from the beginning of the world to the Last Judgment. In this chronology, the Saracens of the recent historical period (and the present—speaking from the perspective of the twelfth century), succeeded to the Egyptians of the Old Testament as oppressors of the faithful.53 The first trumpet blast in the Old Testament occurs as a prelude to the Theophany on Sinai, Exodus 19 : 16. During this divine revelation, the cove­nant with the Jews, their charter of election and salvation, is unveiled in the form of laws, the Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant, which make man­ifest the inexorable connection between submission to God’s will and salva­tion. Yahweh tells Moses (Exodus 19 : 13) that the signal for the people to go up to the mountain to meet God will be the sounding of the shofar, or ram’s horn. Three verses later, the scene is described: Now at daybreak on the third day there were peals of thunder on the mountain and lightning flashes, a dense cloud, and a loud trumpet blast, and inside the camp all the people trembled. Then Moses led the people out of



the camp to meet God, and they stood at the bottom of the mountain [my italics].54

The ram’s horn symbolized submission because of its connection with the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22. The text specifically mentions that the ram provided by God as a substitute for Isaac in recognition of Abraham’s submis­sion was caught by its horns in a bush (Genesis 22: 13). This is why the shofar, or trumpet of Exodus 19 : 13, 16, must be a ram’s horn, to indicate submission. These textual loci figure prominently in the salvation/submission/messi­anic symbolism of the New Testament in the Middle Ages. Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies the coming of Christ in the Benedictus, Luke 1: 68–79. Here he refers to Christ as the “horn of Salvation” (rendered by Jerome as “cornu salutis”), using the Greek word kéras, which represents the Hebrew Qran of Genesis 22: 13.” Qran meant both “horn” and “power,” an ambiguity that was in part re­ sponsible for the association of Moses as a type for Christ. In Exodus 34: 29 Moses comes down from his theophany on the mountain of Sinai with the two tablets of Testimony in his hands; “he did not know that the skin on his face was radiant after speaking with Yahweh.” Jerome translates in the Vulgate: “et ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Domini.” Christ, Luke’s cornu salutis, also came away from his theophany with a ra­diant face, and Moses and Elijahalong with Peter, James, and John, the three principal disciples whose connection with the Roncevaux material we noted earlier-were present at the Transfiguration. Gertrud Schiller has commented on the link provided between the Transfiguration as part of the progressive evidence that Christ is the Messiah and “his advance towards the Passion, which is foreshadowed in the synoptic Gospels [immediately] before the ac­count of the Transfiguration.”56 In the Benedictus, Luke specifically equated the advent of the “horn of sal­ vation” and the new covenant which gave mankind “knowledge of salvation.” Christ’s Passion and his role as Messiah, both partially revealed in the Trans­ figuration, are accomplished in the Crucifixion and Resurrection as perfected acts completing the Old Testament exempla which prefigured them: the sac­rifice of Isaac was fulfilled in Christ’s actual death and the Old Testament example thereby transcended; Christ the Messiah transcends Moses, the leader, the man who did not have to see per speculum aenigmatate because he was “the man Yahweh knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). The christological troping of the Isaac story makes it a locus classicus for Passion, Salvation, and Apocalypse imagery, as Schiller has pointed out: “Isaac was seen as an allusion to Christ’s sacrificial Death; his preservation from death prefigures Christ’s victory over death. At a later date, the ram was seen as a prototype of the Lamb of God who suffers for mankind and Isaac, shoul­dering



his wood as he makes his way up the hill, as the prototype for Christ carrying his cross.”57 The dynamic synthesis of these themes-the horn as signal and as power (shofar and Qran)-occurs in Revelation. Here synesthesia dominates the text-and its medieval illustrations-as the language attempts to convey the coalescence of word in image, sound in meaning: trumpet has become voice, and voice, sword. Meaning is seen as well as heard. John, the witness, is de­scribed as turning to see the voice, “the voice like a trumpet,” and that voice is a reiteration of the the Transfigured Christ: “[O]ut of his mouth came a sharp sword, double-edged, and his face was like the sun shining with all its force” (1 : 16).58 This theophany gives way to another, also introduced by “the voice like a trumpet,” which, as in the case of the Theophany on Sinai, is accompanied by thunder and lightning issuing from a throne before which stood “a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed.” The Lamb opens the scroll by breaking the seven seals. Seven trumpets are then blown to unleash retribution on the world for those men who failed to heed the Word. With the sounding of the seventh trumpet, “voices could be heard shouting in heaven, calling, ‘the kingdom of the world had become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever’” (11: 14). The language of both the Vulgate and the Anglo-Norman translation caus­ ally equates the sounding of the trumpet with the creation of the voices telling the completion of the making of the Kingdom of God: “Et septimus angelus tuba cecinit: et factae sunt voces magnae in caelo dicentes: Factum est regnum huius mundi, Domini nostri et Christi eius, et regnabit in secula saeculorum: Amen.” The beginning of the reign of God here signaled by the seventh trumpet occasions yet another evocation of the Sinai Theophany: “Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and an earthquake, and vio­lent hail” (11: 19). At this moment occurs the apocalyptic combat which we saw to have been commemorated at Le Puy and on the Gascon side of the Cize, immediately opposite Roncevaux on the Spanish side of the mountain. The woman, adorned with the sun, gives birth to the male child; the dragon appears and “war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon” (12: 7). We have seen that commentators on Apocalypse, from Beatus of Liebana on, repeatedly linked the Saracens with the dragon in this combat. Now with these contextual facts in mind, if we return to the text of the Oxford version, we may better understand how it uses the language of the trumpet. Laisse 110, the transitional moment between the first and second phases of the battle, inaugurated the anagogical troping which characterizes the second battle sequence of the Roncevaux episode. In lines 1423–35, this laisse describes a repetition in France of the celestial manifestations unleashed by the sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revela­tion;



it also makes specific reference to a site commemorating the apocalyptic battle of Saint Michael, thereby introducing an association of the Archangel with Roland and Roncevaux that will persist until Roland’s apotheosis in laisse 176. In laisse 110, Saint Michel del Peril represents a pilgrim site; in laisse 176, Saint Michel del Peril is the archangel himself; such specific refer­ences to site and person firmly inscribe the image of Revelation in the rhetori­cal structure of the poem. The text itself gives an apocalyptic reading to the celestial manifestations— darkness, thunder, lightning, rain, earthquakes, and violent hail: Dient plusor: “Co est li definement, La fin del secle ki nus est en present!”


[Many say: “This is the end of all things, / The end of the world is upon us.”]

And even though the author intervenes to give the correct interpretation, “Co est li granz dulors por la mort de Rollant” (1437), in the last line of the laisse, the connection has been made and Revelation firmly established as a subtext for the Roland/Roncevaux episode, providing a contextual matrix to guide the audience’s interpretation of the meaning, the theoria, of the action. This procedure of indirection, of textual indirection, will continue through­ out the episode until the moment of Roland’s death, when it yields to direct intervention from the celestial realm as Gabriel—the Archangel of the Annun­ ciation (also the angelic messenger who announced John the Baptist’s coming to Zachariah)—and Saint Michael descend to perform Roland’s apotheosis.59 The death of Roland announced in laisse 110 begins at the moment he sounds his horn for the second time, in laisse 134, but will not be accom­plished until laisse 176. The horn scene, then, falls midway between the apoc­alyptic reading of the death and the death scene itself. Each of these critical passages serves as a moment of disclosure, revealing the path—and the dis­tance he has come on it—toward the sacralization of being Roland achieves at Roncevaux. In laisse 134, the second and longest of the three devoted to sounding the horn, he experiences a typological transfiguration that helps us to understand the narrative transformation of the third and final part of the battle, marked by a progressively more symbolic récit, and Roland’s ultimate apotheosis. The biblical examples of horn imagery showed two connotations—the horn as signal and power (shofar and Qran)—synthesized most notably in the text of Revelation. If we look at the three laisses where Roland sounds the olifant, we find, in fact, a consistent iteration of the double function of horn as signal and horn as transfigured power: shofar and Qran. When the biblical texts stress the horn as signal, they note the effect of the signal, the message com­municated, on the participants who hear it. In the other instance, the horn as power, the texts stress the heightened connotation imparted to the individual by the event and signified



by the numinous quality or irradiation he experi­ences. In these three laisses, we find both uses conflated, exactly as in Reve­lation. Note that each kind of horn image, shofar and Qran, itself possesses a dual expressivity: immanent and manifest, literal and figural. In its quality as lit­eral horn—made of and from horn—the shofar symbolized submission by analogy with the story of Isaac, the sacrificial victim who prefigures Christ. It thus possessed the capacity to signify both as sound and as image (like the letter in Scripture which Patristic tradition identified with flesh). Even as it expressed human submission and obedience to divine will—in Exodus and Joshua the horn is sounded at Yahweh’s express command—it also revealed the presence of divine power, and often a military power directed against “the hostile world.” The Qran also signified rhetorically by conflating literal and figural signifi­ cation—historia and theoria—in one expressive gesture where divine presence briefly imprints itself on the human visage, making the flesh discourse. This signification appears to the audience, not to the transfigured person who serves as the mediary for revelation: “et ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Domini” (Exodus 34: 29). Now when Roland sounds the olifant, he both signals to Charlemagne and expresses his submission to the divine, rather than the human predication of the battle as he reasoned it out in the preceding debate. Turpin correctly inter­preted the trumpet blast as a signal for the beginning of the definitive battle with the Saracen forces, and thus, proleptically, an annunciation of the coming victory (11. 1744–45). The two movements are not a contradiction, but rather the recognition of a paradox taught again and again in the Hebrew Bible—often in theophanies preceding battles, as in Joshua—that strength and victory lie in submission to and recognition of divine power. The horn as shofar expresses the oxymoronic quality of the Christian warrior: strength in weakness. Roland had not learned this lesson at the beginning of the battle; now he literally trumpets it. The reciprocal exchange of function between Roland and the olifant that takes place in the course of the scene drives home the message: he loses physi­cal strength and vitality—but gains in symbolic power—as the horn gains force. The three laisses stress the extraordinary force of the instrument, and the progressive feebleness of the man: 133 [the man] [the horn]

Rollant ad mis l’olifan a sa buche, Empeint le ben, per grant vertut le sunet. Halt sunt li pui e la voiz est mult lunge, Granz .XXX. liwes l’Poirent li respaway.]




[Roland has put the olifant to his mouth, / He sets it well, sounds it with all his might. / The hills are high, and that voice ranges far, / They heard it echo thirty great leagues away.]60

134 [the man]

[the horn]

Li quens Rollant, par peine e par ahans, Par grant dulor sunet son olifan. Par me la buche en salt fors li cler sancs, De sun cervel le temple en est rumpant. Del corn qu’il tient Pole en est mult grant.


[Count Roland, with pain and suffering, / With great agony sounds his olifant. / Bright blood comes gushing from his mouth, / The temple bursts in his forehead. / The sound of the horn he is holding carries very far.]

135 [the man] [the horn] [the man]

Li quens Rollant ad la buche sanglente, De sun cervel rumput en est li temples. L’olifan sunet a dulor e a peine, Karles 1’oït e ses Franceis l’entendent. Ço dist li reis: “Cel corn ad lunge aleine!” Respont dux Neimes: “Baron i fait la peine!”[1785–90]

[Count Roland’s mouth is bleeding, / On his forehead, the temples burst. / He sounds the olifant in agony and pain, / Charles hears it and his French listen hard. /Then the King said: “That horn has a long breath (carriand long distanced!” / Duke Naimes replies: “That baron’s putting all his might into it!”]

In this exchange, the horn—as Duke Naimes’s observation makes clear— imprints itself on Roland both literally and figuratively in that ironic reversal of worldly (manifest) meaning we have come to associate with passion im­agery. The horn symbolized the submission to self-sacrifice typified in Christ’s Passion. In sacrificing himself by sounding the horn so powerfully that it splits his head, Roland does not commit self-destruction but rather self-predication: in marking himself with the horn, he reveals a new being, a being transfigured by the sacrificial deed in the manner of the martyr or of Christ himself. He has at once expressed his difference from the others and provided a graphic image of that difference on his own person. Like the horn itself, Roland signifies his transformation both visually and sonorously. The irradiation undergone by Moses and Christ in their theophanies takes the form, in Roland’s case, of the bloody stigmata—the ruptured temple and bleeding mouth—imprinted by the shofar become Qran.



The lexical terms employed by these three laisses also accord with the ty­pological reading. Two names denote the instrument Roland sounds: olifan and corn; each appears three times over the three laisses; although the central one, 134, uses olifan once only and corn twice. As in the Bible, we have a dual terminology; we also find dual connotations. Power or might, associated with the idea of irradiation, the image of shooting forth rays, was one meaning of the Hebrew Qran, and similarly, of the Latin cornus—by which Qran and kéras were rendered—the etymon of Old French corn. Laisses 134 and 135 specifically use corn rather than olifan in lines where the force or power of the instrument is underlined: Del corn qu’il tient l’oïe en est mult grant.

[1. 1765]

[The carrying power of this horn he holds is very great.] Ço dist li reis: “Cel corn ad lunge aleine!”

[1. 1789]

[Thus said the king: “This horn has a mighty blast.”]

Personified attributes such as “aleine” (breath) and “voiz” (voice) convey the power ascribed to the horn in more than just physical terms, suggesting the connotation “message,” “instruction”: Halt sunt li pui e la voiz est mult lunge.

[1. 1755]

[High are the peaks and its voice is far-reaching.]

It is in Revelation, as we saw, that the sound of the horn appears as a voice that instructs as well as signals, although in all the biblical texts the voice of the horn belongs to the register of divine discourse. Finally, how do the characters themselves read the language of the horn? Brault says that “Charles is in doubt as to the sound of the Olifant,”62 but his assertion runs directly counter to the textual evidence. In all three laisses the sound of the trumpet is immediately equated with combat by the reliable char­acters: Charlemagne in laisses 133–34, and Naimes in laisse 135: Ço dit li reis: “Bataille funt nostre hume!”

[1. 1758]

[The King said: “Our men are giving battler] Ce dist li reis: “Jo of le corn Rollant! Unc nel sunast se ne fust cumbatant.”


[The King says: “I hear Roland’s horn! / He’d never sound it if he weren’t fighting.”]



Respont dux Neimes: “Baron i fait la peine! Bataille i ad, par le men escïentre.” [1790–91] [Duke Naimes replies: “A worthy baron is causing himself great anguish! / There’s a battle there, that much I know”]

Well, why shouldn’t the intended audience read the horn correctly? During their debate, Roland, Turpin, and Oliver all assumed that the message would be properly interpreted by the receivers, although only Turpin postulated the full import of the act. And yet the poem allows for the possibility of misread­ing the horn; it inserts a problematic interpretation at a crucial moment, and this misprision permits the audience to realize more forcefully than ever the importance of Roland’s gesture, on the one hand, and the extent of Ganelon’s perfidy, on the other. Three characters hear the horn and debate its meaning in Charlemagne’s camp: Charlemagne himself, Duke Naimes, and Ganelon. They are symmet­rically balanced with the three who debated and were present at the sounding of the horn: Roland, Turpin, and Oliver. Just as the senders were divided two-­to-one as to the meaning and advisability of sounding the horn, so the receivers are divided twoto-one over the meaning and necessity for answering it. Linking the two groups are the three blasts of the olifant; three “voices” with at least that many levels of meaning: one for the audience; one for Charle­magne and Naimes; one for Ganelon. Ganelon, like the Saracens earlier, postulates an erroneous meaning to the horn sound, but unlike the Saracens, he does so consciously. This manifest perversion of what he knows to be the true meaning of the olifant reiterates his earlier misrepresentation of the truth of the mission to Marsile when he reports back to Charlemagne in laisse 54. In this case, he goes even further, as though in order to reconfirm his treason or to justify it he denigrates Charle­magne, using the same language as the Saracens earlier, and adumbrates an unflattering portrait of Roland and his previous exploits. Ganelon’s language conveys the basic material for exactly the kind of “malvaise cançun” that Roland has insisted must not be sung about the Twelve Peers (11. 1013–14). Eugene Vance observes that, “We should not be surprised that Ganelon, who has betrayed the norms of his society, should use language differently from other men in the poem.”63 What makes Ganelon’s language different—in fact, he often uses the same kind of language as. the Saracens—does not lie at the level of manifest sign so much as at the level of immanent intelligibility. He is the only one, except for Blancandrins and Marsile, in a slightly different context, who intends to conceal the truth, to reverse the dialectic of revelation that Roland devotes his energies to demonstrating. Motivated by the same jealousy that the Clermont-Ferrand Passion ascribes to judas,64 Ganelon also betrays Roland by words; instead of trying to use the



language model that reflects and confirms God’s purpose, he links himself with a negative model intended to conceal or controvert the “Spirit of Truth.” As so often in this section, Revelation and its commentaries provide the context of theoria by which Ganelon’s epistemological transgressions may be understood. In his commentary on “the beast and his image” in Revelation, Augustine argues that the beast is the “ungodly city itself and the community of unbelievers set in opposition to the faithful people and the city of God.” The image of the beast, however, would represent Christians who pretend to believe but in fact betray the faith and the faithful by speaking the language of the unbelievers, the language of the beast. “‘His image’ seems to me to mean his simulation, to wit, in those men who profess to believe, but live as unbe­lievers. For they pretend to be what they are not, and are called Christians, not from true likeness, but from a deceitful image.”65 Ganelon allows himself to do what Paul says the true believer should not: “Be not yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6: 14). His language and ac­tions consistently link him with the unbelievers in an effort to subvert not just the faith of his own kind but also the caritas so necessary for there to be a foundation of social belief and trust within the linguistic community of be­lievers.66 Ganelon’s attempted perversion of the song of Roland occurs in laisse 134, the central laisse of the first horn scene and the one in which Roland literally sounds the opening bars of his own song by blowing the horn in such a way that he splits his head open in a direct equation of speech (communication) and gesture. In other words, the honesty of his speech may be measured by its physical consequences for him, consequences which are self-inflicted and could have been mitigated by less effort. The resultant physical cost becomes a justification for believing his other words and gesture. This was, of course, a prime argument in the ratification of Christ’s teach­ing: his willingness to valorize it by his own death, a death which also could have been mitigated by less effort. And just as the cross remained after Christ’s death as a tangible sign, a synecdoche for the whole Passion, and a prized relic, so the olifant, now said to be split in sympathetic identification with Roland’s head—as the Guide du Merin showed—existed as an authenticating relic of Roland’s speech act. Roland’s gesture at the beginning of laisse 134 thus stands as a stark contra­ diction to Ganelon’s treacherous enunciation at the end of the laisse. Unlike Roland’s “speech act,” Ganelon’s cannot be ratified by a corresponding gesture. On the contrary, his language is disconfirmed both at the level of historia and theoria: by its failure to correlate with the reality of the characters it describes as we know them, that is, Charlemagne and Roland; by its emulation of the discourse of types whose treacherous valence the audience knows: the Sara­cens and Judas in the Passion Gospels; and by the equation of his speech in this laisse with his immediate denunciation by Naimes (1. 1792), arrest by Charlemagne (laisse 137), and subsequent trial and death (laisses 271–89). In all three categories, the



disconfirmation of Ganelon’s discourse in laisse 134 forms a symmetrical antithesis to Roland’s discourse, the sounding of the oli­fant. The rhetoric of affirmation proves more powerful, because more submis­sive, than its negative counterpart in this exemplary narrative. Ganelon’s transgression cannot be viewed simply as a question of truth ver­sus falsehood, however. If the rhetoric of affirmation—the use of language to attempt to “see through a glass darkly” by trying to find the path of ascent—constituted a principal means of transcending the spatial category of historia, then Ganelon’s attempt to pervert this language must be shown to exclude him not only from the possibility of seeing the truth himself, but also of pred­icating meaning-as-truth for anyone within his community. In other words, his self-willed speech act becomes the instrument excluding him from the societas, the linguistic community where faith provided the competence for understanding. just as Roland’s self-willed act becomes an act of supreme meaning, redefining the coherence of the community by postulat­ing a new sacrificial predicate, so Ganelon’s act constitutes an ironic parody of Roland’s passion. We see this in the grotesque humiliation to which he is subjected following his arrest in laisse 137: Cil le receit, s’i met .C. cumpaignons De la quisine, des mielz e des pejurs. Icil li peilent la barbe e les gernuns, Cascun le fiert .IIII. colps de sun puign; Ben le batirent a fuz e a bastuns, E si li metent el col un caeignun, Si l’encaeinent altresi cum un urs.


[The head cook takes charge of him, he assigns this duty to a hundred of his men / From the kitchen, the surest and the toughest. / They pluck out his beard and his mustache, / Each strikes him four blows with his fist; /They thrash him soundly with rods and sticks, / They put an iron collar around his neck, / And chain him up like a bear.]

To understand this summary humiliation, we must call to mind the parallel with Judas and the way in which Judas’s perversion of the rhetoric of affirma­tion was represented. Earlier, we spoke of the moment during the Last Supper, according to John’s version, when Judas took the sop of bread and wine Christ offered to him as a sign of his betrayal. The same act of communion that bound the disciples and Christ in a spiritual community becomes parodic in Judas’s case and assumes the opposite meaning. The bread and wine of the commu­nion supper become a wine-soaked sop such as was thrown to the dogs; Judas’s partaking of it marks his exclusion from the fellowship, a logical consequence of the actions performed with his lips, the same the devil passes through to enter his soul as the sop enters his mouth.67



Ganelon, too, participates in the same communal activity—that of predicat­ ing meaning for the horn—as Duke Naimes and Charlemagne. But the import of his statement is precisely the opposite of theirs: he betrays his exclusion from the community with the same lips that kissed the Saracen Satanic rep­resentatives in concluding the pact of betrayal, and which then perverted the truth of the mission to Marsile by presenting a false report to the king upon his return, and which later sealed Roland’s doom by nominating him to the rear guard. As the other participants measure the enormous disparity between Ganelon’s perversion of the truth and what they know to be the historical reality, he stands, like Judas in a similar moment, fully revealed. The humili­ation at the hands of Charlemagne’s cooks simply ratifies in a graphic way what has occurred at a much more profound level of meaning. Charlemagne and Naimes perceive the correct meaning of the horn, the sense intended by Roland and Turpin. Since the only link between the two groups is the horn itself, or rather its voice echoing among the mountains and valleys, the immediately correct interpretation by Charlemagne and Naimes must, as we saw earlier, be seen in the context of revelation. For the emperor, the sound of the horn is literally an awakening to the significance of his pre­monitory dreams, particularly the one recounted in laisse 56, where the his­torical givens of the subsequent actions are cleverly represented in the kind of symbolic language used for dreams in medieval literature. This symbolic language offers an open semantic field for interpretation, functioning, at the moment of the dream, on two levels: one for the audience, whose privileged prereading of the legend makes the dream polyvalent, but another for the participants, for whom the enigma will generally remain un­resolved until the moment of the foreshadowed action has come to ratify the dream; the event then assumes the status of a revelation. The enigmatic quality of the dream language for the participant absolves him from the neces­sity of acting upon the information until the meaning has been revealed, but at that point, he may act with the assurance that his action corresponds to the divine intention conveyed through the language of the oneiric experience.68 Carles se dort, li empereres riches. Sunjat qu’il eret as greignurs porz de Sizer, Entre ses poinz teneit sa hanste fraisnine. Guenes li quens l’ad sur lui saisie, Par tel aïr l’at estrussee e brandie Qu’envers le cel en volent les escicles. Carles se don, qu’il ne s’esveillet mie [my italics].


[Charles, the mighty emperor sleeps. / He dreamed he was at the main pass of Cize, / He was holding his ashen lance in his hands. / Count Ganelon seized



it from him, / He twisted it and brandished it so violently /That its splinters fly toward heaven. / Charles sleeps on, he does not wake up.]

For Charlemagne, the horn, sounding in the clear light of day, signals the realization of the dream prediction in all its details. As usual with divine in­tention, meaning exists before the event that will manifest it to man. The language of God was enigmatic, latent meaning, requiring the language of manifest event to become comprehensible. The meaning of Roncevaux has been sown in Charlemagne’s mind by the oneiric premonition which is divine in origin, but this meaning does not become legible until the event transforms it into syntax, as it were. In this the text follows Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, Scottus Eriugena, and Hugh of Saint Victor, all of whom asserted in various ways that God made intelligible to man his invisible power and dignity through the symbolism of objects and events in the world.69 Charlemagne is the only character in the poem for whom the correct reading of the horn sign does not involve admitting to an earlier misprision of the impending events. Rather, his realization in this passage involves a transposi­tion of the latent valence of the site, Roncevaux/Cize, from the category of the irréel to the réel. “As greignurs porz de Sizer” (1. 719), along with “Guenes li quens,” are the two concrete details in the dream language, allowing the au­dience to seize its significance immediately, and Charlemagne, subsequently. The transition of the dream premonition from virtual to concrete, from meta­phor to message which the horn accomplishes for Charlemagne is precisely what the text of the poem, the text as horn, realizes for the audience. In the case of Duke Naimes, the horn does impose a recognition of his earlier misreading of the significance of the event. Like the other characters, except Charlemagne, he erroneously predicated the meaning of the impending course of events. Without Naimes’s excessive reliance on caritas, at the expense of experience, during the earlier counsel scenes, Ganelon would not have been able to have his views prevail. As Charlemagne’s chief counselor, Naimes wielded his authority to valorize Ganelon’s representations of the Saracen in­tentions. In laisse 16, he predicates a very convincing interpretation of the Saracen situation: a totally fallacious one. More importantly, the text equates his view to his approbation of Ganelon’s words: Aprés iço i est Naimes venud. Meillor vassal n’aveit en la curt nul E dist al rei: “Ben l’avez entendud, Guenes li quens ço vus ad respondud; Saveir i ad, mais qu’il seit entendud….”


[After that Naimes came forward. / There was no better knight at court, / And he said to the King: “You’ve heard him well, / Count Ganelon has



given you his opin­ion; / There’s wisdom in what he says, provided that it be understood.”]

The same is true of laisse 62, where he valorizes Ganelon’s view at the expense of Roland’s and urges his confirmation as leader of the rear guard: Aprés iço i est Neimes venud. Meillor vassal n’out en la curt de lui E dist al rei: “Ben laves entendut, Li quens Rollant, it est mult irascut….”


[After that Naimes came forward. / There was not a better knight at court than he, / And he said to the King: “You’ve heard him well, / Count Roland is very angry.”] So it is in recognition of the web of deception woven by Ganelon’s words on the earlier occasions that Naimes now rejects the treacherous interpretation of the horn put forth by Ganelon in laisse 134. For the first time, prompted by his correct reading of the trumpet message, he recognizes the disjunction be­tween the manifest meaning of Ganelon’s discourse and its immanent intelli­gibility. In effect, he measures Ganelon’s words against the voice of the horn as revelation, correctly interpreting Ganelon’s perversion of the truth as testi­mony to his guilt: “Cil l’at trait ki vos en roevet feindre. Adubez vos, si criez vostre enseigne, Si sucurez vostre maisnee gente: Asez oëz que Rollant se dementet!”


[“That man has betrayed him who commands you to pretend (you have heard noth­ing). / To arms, shout your battle cry, / Go to the aid of your noble men: / You can plainly hear Roland’s lament!”] Here, as in laisses 16 and 62, Naimes’s counsel prevails, but now he is guided by the voice of the trumpet and not by Ganelon’s words. Naimes’s call to ac­tion repredicates the valence of text-event: no longer is Ganelon—the histori­cal agent of betrayal—the motivating force of the battle. Henceforth, it is the Trumpet, the voice of revelation, the traditional precursor of theophany, which figures the significance of the battle for participants and audience alike in a symbolic fusing of historical denotation and anagogic connotation that trans­forms the third and final phase of the battle at Roncevaux into an unambigu­ously symbolic narrative. The horn sequence goes far toward postulating that alterity of Roncevaux that we noted at the beginning of the chapter. If we now move on to consider the nine laisses devoted to Roland’s death scene in light of the horn episode, we find a



rather different kind of discourse from what we began with, one incor­porating a much more explicit revelation of Roland’s spiritual agony. In effect, the somewhat enigmatic language of the trumpet is here translated into a con­fiteor. For the imperfect vision that marked Roland’s progress in the earliest stages of the battles now gives way to a discourse free from the blindness of the predication in the first scene and without the mise-en-cause of the second. The language of the trumpet— especially the third and feeblest blast, in laisse 156—has enabled a trio of Frankish warriors to rout the Saracens and allowed Roland quite accurately to claim a new identity for Roncevaux: “Cist camp est vostre, mercit Deu, vostre e mien” (1. 2183). Roncevaux as Text and Monument of Roland’s Passion We saw that Roland’s death was foretold in laisse 110, a passage that has been described as “l’une des plus belles pages de la poésie épique.70 Twenty-four laisses later, he suffers his death wound by rupturing his temples while sound­ing the olifant; forty-two laisses after the description of the death wound and sixty-six laisses after its prediction Roland finally dies, and three “archangels,” Cherubim, Saint Michael, and Gabriel, bear his soul to heaven. This dramatic finale occurs in laisse 176, the last of a sequence of nine laisses devoted to the death scene, a sequence which further subdivides into three scenes: one deal­ing with the olifant; one with the sword, Durendal; and the final one to Ro­land’s last prayer. With so elaborate a preparation and structure, we might expect that the nar­ rative of the death scene would take place as anticipated by the récit itself. In fact, everything prior to laisse 168, the beginning of the death sequence, leads us to expect that the death of Roland will proceed much like the deaths of Oliver and Turpin, where Roland played an important role as comforter and mourner. We scarcely anticipate an abrupt shift in narrative strategy when we reach Roland’s death scene, yet that is precisely what we find. Quite unexpectedly, the closure transforms not simply the ontological status of the hero, from life to death— that has been anticipated—but his functional status, that is, how he is represented in the text, as well. This could hardly take place without a cor­responding change in narrative mode. The nine laisses devoted to Roland’s death offer us less the spectacle of ces­sation of being than of transformation or, to use the more medieval term, of translatio, both in its religious and rhetorical sense. He ceases to be what the preceding narrative has primarily shown him to be—that is, a warrior, a leader, and a human of imperfect vision—and becomes what the Guide du Merin, Dante (Paradiso 18), and other medieval authorities took him for, a martyr-saint. I do not mean to suggest that the two states are mutually exclusive or some­ how oppositional; they are, in fact, connected in an implicational relationship by the progress of the text. Nor do I wish to suggest that there has been no advance



preparation for the translatio; the details of the numerological sym­bolism cited above prove the contrary. Nonetheless, it is a fact, and one insuf­fi ciently commented, that the translatio Rotholandi that occurs in the nine laisses devoted to his death is an obvious progression only after the fact, that is, it does not have to take the form it does, nor even occur at all so far as the expectations created in the earlier part of the text are concerned. Indeed, we saw a very effective sacralization of Roland in the Pseudo-Turpin without the translatio that we find here. In the Pseudo-Turpin, the sacralization remained at the level of event, of récit, whereas in this text it is an effect of discourse. In traditional critical terminology, what we witness in the Oxford version of the death scene is a transition from lexis to logos, from focus on the act of verbal representation of the hero in the context of historia to that of represen­tation of his consciousness.71 This implies the orientation of the narrative to a new dimension of the mythos, and consequently a revision of the narrative project as we thought we understood it up to this point. What occupies the narrative in the death sequence is less representation of a historical event, Roland’s death, than the representation of a conscious event, the way Roland died. For it is the hero’s intention of death that determines his sacralization. Representation of paradigmatic consciousness, spiritual inten­ tionality, becomes the central concern of the geste at this point, and we know from our study of Eriugena’s conception of theosis in chapter 1 why this must be so. Even so, it may be useful to turn to Saint Augustine, particularly the Confessions, to understand precisely how the text uses discourse to convey this translatio. First, however, let’s see why any alteration in the mode of récit may be per­ ceived as necessary from the standpoint of the poem itself. As already noted, the text posits Roland’s death as a given long before it occurs. In the meantime, a number of other significant characters die, some of whose deaths, such as Oliver’s and Turpin’s, we see in detail. Whatever symbolic value they may subsequently be perceived as possessing, they belong to the temporal/historic narrative sequence. They are, in short, part of the récit as imitation of a non­verbal reality, the Battle of Roncevaux. Clearly, if Roland’s death occurs simply as part of this sequence, it will be, like the others, a temporal, event-bound phenomenon. We would hardly be able to explain, satisfactorily, why it ap­pears in the text in the form it does or why it requires the participation of angelic messengers. But death could be treated in another way in the Christian tradition; Christ’s life and the saints’ lives that imitated it taught that a significant Christian death, while occurring in time, as part of a life sequence, could call that whole sequence and the time of its historia into question; it could transcend time and enter eternity. Christ’s death and those of the saints also taught the lesson of salvation of class by an exemplary member. Although the results of these lessons might be conveyed in narrative form, as the Crucifixion and Resurrec­tion is a narrative, the preparation



for them—as represented in the sermon on ends or the Jerusalem ministry in the Gospel—requires not a récit of events but a representation of consciousness, a revelation of intentionality. Thus for Roland’s death to transcend the temporality of the historic event and for it to be the exemplum which will guarantee the salvation of the warriors who died with him, the representation of his death must correspond to an episteme of spiritual consciousness by which the Christian transforms the anecdotal and contingent exterior life to a representation of an essential mental state. Saint Augustine dealt with this problem in terms of his own narrative translatio in book 11 of the Confessions. Very briefly, we recall Augustine’s saying that God’s grace consists—in re­ spect to the question of our comprehension of life as purpose—in allowing man to apprehend, in the multiplicity of his human acts, a coherent pattern relating human deeds to divine purpose. Coherence, however, is a phenome­ non of expressive language, a textual phenomenon, and it requires the individ­ual to recast his deeds, his past, into a discourse whose referentiality will be that of progress toward perfectibility, not of event but of intention. Augustine describes this as an opposition between distention, or life as nonverbal act, and extension, or life as intentionality, as verbal act. He says: But since “your mercy is better than lives,” behold my life is a distention, or distraction. But “your right hand has upheld me” in my Lord, the Son of man, mediator between you, the One, and us, the many, who are dissipated in many ways, upon many things; so that by him “I may apprehend, in whom I have been apprehended,” and may be gathered together again from my former days, to follow the One; “for­getting the things that are behind” and not distended but extended, not to things that shall be and shall pass away, but “to those things that are before”; not purpose­lessly, but purposively, “I follow on for the prize of my supernal vocation,” where “I may hear the voice of your praise,” and “contemplate your delights,” which nei­ther come nor go.72

Augustine underlines the importance of the Logos as the paradigm of lifeas­verbal-consciousness by weaving seven quotations from Psalms into his ex­ position. This helps to drive home the concept of extension as a recapitulation of one’s life, recasting and ordering the secular events to provide a coherence, but one which is not that of human wisdom or logic, let alone human ambi­tion or goals. The extension conceived by Augustine is an effort to expand the mind in one final gesture of humility and self-abnegation, one final thrust toward the infinity of the One. The closure of such an exemplary life, then, will be an act of verbal con­ sciousness, an explicit that is a dis-closure, in the individual’s own words, of the coherent intentionality of the hitherto perceived disparate jumble of acts that make up a life. If the life in question exists as a narrative already, then the recapitulative



extension Augustine speaks of as the final re-cognition of that life may in fact be a narrative of a narrative, an image of an image; but just as in the real-life situation Augustine describes, the final narrative must still be a dialectical retelling of the preceding story, not simply a mirror image. Furthermore, the main character, hitherto perceived as circumscribed by a récit focused on event, must now emerge as at least an adjunct narrator telling his own story, not from the perspective of event but from that of consciousness and purpose. We will then find an account of what we have just witnessed from the standpoint of an individual growing toward perfection. If persuasive, this translatio narrationis can constitute a closure in which the hero himself provides an icon of the preceding narrative, a retelling of his own story whose subject is the prior and present consciousness of the Subject, the speaker. This discourse on the narrative, or infratext, the expression of the hero’s own per­ception of his acts, many of which we have witnessed from a third-person narrative viewpoint earlier, offers a perspective hitherto unavailable to us and makes explicit motivation that could previously only be assumed. This infratext really serves as an interpretant (in Peirce’s sense, a mental image) of the preceding narrative, a commentary which must be taken into account in determining the meaning of the whole.73 We will now be required to reinterpret the preceding text from the standpoint of its interpretant and to see in it a signification not previously apparent, or rather, to discover that the altered reference which the infratext brings to the narrative will force us to develop (by retroreading) significations which were latent—intentionally embedded by the author who foresaw this closure—but which require the al­tered reference of the closure for their full ratification and development. The purpose of the infratext is given by Augustine: it guarantees the univer­ sality of the whole narrative and assures that it is “extended not to things that have been and will pass away,” but purposively to eternal things “that are before” and “which neither come nor go.” The change in register in the récit necessary to accomplish this, by comparison with the preceding narrative, will be toward a greater degree of subjectivity, a valorization of the discourse—of the hero as an end in itself rather than as an ancillary to the narrative context.74 Dramatically, it provides a summation of that in the story and character which will transcend the physical act of its closure and endure to the present, the moment of reading. In other words, the final scene must be memorable. It has somehow to attain the status of a textual monument valorizing the word-as-deed of the hero; to provide the putative first-person summation of consciousness which will serve to support the claim that the hero “really lived” and was indeed exem­plary, different, sacred. This is even more important in the case of works, like the Roland, where the, hero’s death comes not at the end of the work but as a prelude to it. In that case, the



text itself has time to present, in Augustine’s terms, a demonstration of that in the hero’s life which is exemplary and eternal and therefore worthy of surviving into and motivating the present reading or telling. Such a coda to the life of the hero, a continuation of the narrative after his physical death, is absolutely essential to document the transition from life to vita. In the context of the vita, the hero’s own words, his own thoughts as represented by the first-person summation of consciousness incorporated in his death scene, constitute prized relics of life, providing the audience of the vita with an impression of direct contact with the subject. Before we examine Roland’s death scene, it will be useful to look briefly at an analogue of this translatio narrationis in the Old. French, Vie de Saint Alexis, where we find a similar use of the autobiographical infratext incorporated in the third-person narrative of the Life. This is the most skillful use of the device prior to the Oxford version of the Roland that I have found. Although the intertextuality between the Alexis and the Roland has long been noted, the idea that Alexis’s chartre, the letter that he writes about his life, might be taken as an icon of the vita as a whole, symbolizing his con­sciousness and, above all, the transition from distension to extension, has not been noted, at least to my knowledge.75 Without according to this poem the attention it deserves, let us quickly note the role played by the chartre, Alexis’s autobiographical letter, in respect to the rest of the Vie. Thirty-four years after dedicating himself to God and seventeen years after returning, unrecognized, to his parents’ house in Rome to live as a beggar, Alexis feels himself on the point of death. He asks one of the servants for ink and parchment and then sets down his life: Escrit la carta tute de sei medisme, Cum s’en alat e cum it s’en revint.


[He writes the whole letter himself, / About how he went away from there and how he returned.]

The document cannot be disclosed yet, however. He keeps the letter to him­self and, as his end approaches, refuses to speak at all. For those around him, even though they are his closest relatives, he remains enigmatic and unrecog­nized to the end: Tres sei la tint, ne la volt demustrer Nel reconuissent usque it s’en seit alet.


[He held the letter against himself, did not wish to reveal it / They don’t recognize him until he has gone.]

The text carefully prepares the death scene as the moment of recognition, of dis-closure of Alexis’s identity at two levels, the spiritual (theoria) and the human



(historia). Within the récit, God sets in motion the discovery/death scene as a numinous event by warning the city of Rome that it will be de­stroyed unless the holy man living unrecognized within its midst is found. The emperor and the pope seek him out. Meanwhile, of course, Alexis has written his letter, which remains con­ cealed “usque it s’en seit alet.” The moment of death, then, has been chosen for the disclosure, and thus marks, for obvious symbolic reasons, the dissolu­tion of the ironic distance that has separated audience from participants here­tofore, when the audience knew Alexis’s identity while the characters did not. From the death scene to the end, both the audience and the surviving charac­ters must participate, as we shall see in a moment, in a hermeneutics of the sacred, as they learn to know Saint Alexis. They begin this lesson with a reading of his own words, words officially designated as those of a saint, since the text applies that beatific epithet to Alexis for the first time at the moment of his death, just prior to his discovery by the pope and the emperor—his spiritual and political fathers on earth—and Euphemian, his biological father. The son/Son will thus teach the lesson of the Father to the fathers and children, thereby reaffirming the linguistic com­munity of the Logos as well as enlightening it. The reading of Alexis’s chartre constitutes his real death scene, but one that recapitulates his life, since every­one in the work discovers who Alexis is and what he has been only at the moment of his death and thanks to his own (written) words. The reading of the letter thus provides a celebration of Alexis’s death as revelation by postu­lating the conditions by which the disparate signs of his life may be inter­preted in a coherent pattern identifiable as that of a holy life, a saint’s life. But as in all holy lives, the beginning is in the end. The letter ends with Alexis’s death. At the moment when the reading of the letter has been completed, two physical remnants of Alexis exist: the letter, which represents his consciousness, and his cors, the body that performed the intentions. The interpretation of the chartre and of the deeds must be under­taken by the vita, the text we are reading. In fact, the whole death scene becomes a debate over the meaning of Alexis’s life occasioned by the reading of the chartre in the .presence of the dead body. The symbolism of the Christian concept of the flesh as logos, life as articu­lated intentionality could hardly be more strikingly illustrated than by the double image of Alexis’s corpse and the autograph text of his life which the dead hand will release only to the pope, himself a saint, Saint Innocent. No wonder the chartre is treated as a relic and termed “a precious jewel” (d’icele gemme, 1. 378). Parenthetically, we should recall the legend of the dead hand of Roland refusing to release his signifiers, Durendal and the olifant, except to Charlemagne—also a saint. The chartre fulfills a double function of authentication: in its capacity as relic, it valorizes the deeds of Alexis as a conscious submission of human will to divine



purpose. In this sense it is more than a mute, corporeal relic; it is an imprint of the mens et voluntas, the soul which we have seen carried off to heaven. As Alexis’s purported account of his life, it is the originary text con­firming the authenticity of the Vie, our text. Just as Alexis’s corporeal self exists in the récit, his own récit, the genesis of ours, exists as a confirming artifact within the text. At the same time, the conspicuous incompletion of Alexis’s chartre justifies the necessity for the Vie. Most important, though, the Vie completes the chartre by instructing the audience in the hermeneutics of sanctity: how we must read the significance of Alexis. The story cannot end as the chartre does, with the account of the life deeds of Alexis. This would be to deny the essential message of the Chris­tian episteme that death is but a transition, not an end, and that the litmus test of the true saint is what his death can tell us about the value of his life. Without the interpretation of the Vita, the chartre would be teleologically in­complete; it could not function generically as Christian literature, that is, as a didactic genre containing within itself the requisite commentary for it to serve as apocrypha, as parascripture. Conversely, without the chartre, the vie would not possess the filiation with the sacred subject, the word as relic, whence derived its mystical authenticity.77 The reading of the chartre makes explicit what we have recognized all along: that the characters around Alexis are foils for the audience. Just as the chartre provides the icon for the text within the text, Alexis’s family serves to reflect the continuum of audience responses to the Vie. As Virgil reminds Dante in Purgatorio 3.38–39, “Che se possuto aveste veder tutto, / Mestier non era par­turir Maria” (For if you had been able to see all, / There was no need for Mary to give birth). The medieval church was profoundly conscious of the need for guidance in interpreting the word. The responses of the family, with the possible exception of the bride, all misread the lesson of the chartre in one way or another because they all emphasize the past, “what might have been if only we had known, etc.” It is the pope who must step in to show that the correct reading of the chartre is that which detemporalizes it by removing it from its past context and projecting it into spirituality. Instead of emphasizing distension and dis­traction of life in the world, the family should see the extension of an earthly life into the celestial sphere whence, because of the kind of life lived on earth, it can intercede for the family and the audience. This is the reading given by the pope. If we remember the sequence of events in the Alexis, we recall that it is only after the correct reading of the chartre has been determined—thanks to the mediation of the pope—that the cors, Alexis’s body, takes on the value estab­lished by the chartre. Its value so determined, the body then receives the same epithet, “gemme” (jewel, 11. 557, 586), used earlier for the chartre itself. This should not surprise us, for it is the chartre that reveals the soul that animated the cors. Without the testimony provided by the chartre, the récit could not have rejected so authoritatively the alternate readings of the cors provided by the members of Alexis’s family, nor could



it have given us a vita so confident in its assertion that Alexis’s life is an exemplum of how, by extension, we may triumph over the distension of the world, distension which the Alexis equates with misreading and misinterpretation. Returning now to Roland’s death scene, we may perhaps be in a better posi­ tion to understand the nature of its literarity, its status as a textual recasting of the signs of Roland’s life posited in the preceding narrative. At last we can see why the recast life signs can only be correctly interpreted as intentionality, when, in the manner of a saint or Christ, Roland takes his own death upon himself. While we do not find a written icon of the narrative in the Oxford Roland, we do find a confession, a spoken summation of Roland’s life in his own words. We also find a rather dramatic setting for the dis-closure, and one that can be interpreted only in terms of religious ritual. The dramatic events of Roland’s death scene do not occur in the same set­ting as the rest of the battle. They begin with his removal from the battlefield proper to a hill on which stand two trees and four marble blocks. The sequence divides naturally, by the subject matter treated, into three moments or scenes, each one recounted in three laisses.78 The scene opens with a funerary tableau, a moment of stasis occasioned by the apparent “death” of Roland, who upon arriving on the hilltop faints from his exertion. The setting of this first evasion of temporality by the récit is highly symbolic. First, the significance of the hilltop itself: theophanies in Scripture tend to occur on hilltops; the cult of Saint Michael, as we saw, af­fected high places; and many of the important events of Christ’s life took place on hills.79 Second, the seven elements placed on the hill—four marble blocks, two trees (as in the stylized illustrations of Christ’s hilltops), and Roland—reproduce the number, if not the nature, of the seven basic elements of a con­temporary crucifixion scene.80 In the last chapter, we saw the importance at­tached to septiform symbolism. The most striking fact of the tableau represented in laisse 168, however, and repeated at the beginning of laisse 169, is the image of Roland lying between four marble perruns (hand-hewn square blocks). The image of a ritual lying-in-state comes to mind, and, given the context of sacrificial oblation which the JudasGanelon/Christ-Roland axis of opposition has established from laisse 110 on, we can safely assume a symbolic valence for the funerary tableau so carefully described. The detail shows that Roncevaux-as-site—now divided into two distinct spaces, the battle site and the death site, just as we found in the Guide du Pelerin— appears now as a commemorative locus, or rather, we see the stage being set for the authenticating event which will form the object of the com­memoration.81 In fact, the perruns represent the enduring markers of the death site which will subsequently constitute the basis for constructing the chapel dedicated to Roland on this site, just as the scene itself, incorporated into the larger narra­tive, will serve as a legendary foundation for the Chanson. Think also of Ro­land’s body (which the



text tells us later was taken elsewhere) bounded by the marble markers, which, like the text itself, are artistically wrought: “Quatre perruns i ad luisant de marbre” (1. 2272; There were four shining marble blocks there). Like Christ’s tomb itself, they will remain to mark the absence of the sacred presence, a sacred presence which the text shows in its plenitude. At the moment, however, the funerary tableau serves to trigger a misreading of Roland which recalls the earlier misreading of his intentions, at various moments, by Ganelon, Oliver, and others. Like these misprisions, the new one will be corrected by one last blow not of, but with the horn. As so often in the poem, malicious misreading of a privileged character brings about an ironic reversal of the intended predication. Besides ourselves, a Saracen watches Roland. He runs up to the apparently lifeless hero, seizes his body and sword, then announces: “Vencut est li nies Carles! Iceste espee porterai en Arabe.”


[“Now Charles’ nephew has been vanquished! / I will carry his sword to Arabia.”‘

However problematic Roland’s value as signifier, it does not include that of “vanquished.” As though to show just how incompetent a speaker of the he­roic idiolect the Saracen is, Roland contradicts the Saracen physically by kill­ing him and then verbally by giving three successive readings of himself in which his valence as a sacred signifier becomes ever more apparent. In this theosis, we see just how ironic the Saracen’s misprision of Roland, Durendal, and the olifant was. We also witness a carefully plotted recapitulation of the exchange of signification between Roland and his attributes: in the successive passages, Roland’s disclosure takes place with and through the horn and sword. First the horn. We saw how Roland used the olifant in the second horn se­ quence for reciprocal signification: Roland sounded the horn, and the horn marked Roland with a heightened connotation, that of martyr Christi. Now, as part of the category of last acts, the horn acquires further anecdotal meaning by again “speaking” for Roland when he uses it to contradict the Saracen’s characterization of him as “vanquished.” The force of the blow on the Saracen’s head “records” the incident on the horn by splitting it. In this way, the anecdote establishes an equivalence be­tween Roland and the object that becomes one of his symbolic attributes: each has been ruptured by the other. The horn marked Roland when he blew it in laisses 134–35, and he reciprocates here; together they achieve a significance they might never have attained individually. They have succeeded in marking the text with heightened connotation: whoever looked at the olifant, sus­pended as a relic in Saint Seurin



at Bordeaux, would see it as a sign, of Roland’s life and the manner of his death. The Guide du Merin demonstrated vividly how the relic as signifier of life and death—in short, of vita—constituted a cultural unit of reciprocal implication: the relic signified the text, the text valorized the relic; the one metonymized Roland, the other metaphor­ized him. The sword is the ostensible subject of Roland’s discourse in the second scene (laisses 171–73). But just as Durendal repeatedly rebounds off the stones against which Roland strikes it, so his discourse deflects from sword to swordsman in a manner which creates a reciprocal exchange of value between the two. This represents something new in the text. Unlike the horn, where the reciprocal value exchange with the hero plays a significant role almost from the beginning of the battle, the sword has not been obviously linked to Roland by one particularly noteworthy scene. Durendal plays an important role throughout, but not one that alters the connotation of the hero, until now. Suddenly the sword, obedient to Roland’s commands throughout the pre­vious events, asserts itself. It contradicts not only Roland’s will, but also his interpretation of the story he tells. Afraid that the sword will fall into Saracen hands after his death, Roland tries to destroy it by beating it against stone blocks. As he performs this act, he utters a lament which in fact amounts to an autobiography of all the cam­paigns he has fought in with the sword and all the victories they have won together. Obviously, the functionality of both speaker and sword receives con­siderable reinforcement from the recital. Some of the exploits Roland recounts occur nowhere else in the legend. As readers, we recognize that Roland’s recapitulation of these exploits at the moment he tries to destroy the instrument with which he accomplished them brings about the opposite of what he intended: instead of destroying the sword, the divine instrument with which he “wrote” the deeds of his historia on the world, he now uses the same instrument in a doubly signifying way. The blows on the rock strike our ears (or our eyes), recording yet another chapter of the geste of Roland and Durendal. The sword also splits the rock, which, like the horn, becomes a relic signifying the geste. Roland thus records his (and Dur­endal’s) deeds in stone, and the stone “tablet” becomes a monument to the text. In all of this, Roncevaux—as site and text—also gains yet another christo­ logical sign. Matthew 27: 51 records that the rocks were split at Golgotha by the cosmic upheavals at the moment of Christ’s death, and Peter the Deacon’s Book of Holy Places (1137) records that at Calvary “the mountain is cleft,” and that below it “is Golgotha, where Christ’s blood fell on the cleft stone.”82 But Roland still attempts to efface the record of his earthly ambitions. And this brings us to yet another level of irony in the scene: the self-abnegation inherent in the rhetoric of his discourse and in the attempt to efface the sym­bol of his glory



makes both appear more significant in the text, but significant of God’s grace, rather than of Roland’s worldly honor. We find in this autobio­graphical statement a reprise of the submission symbolized by the language of the horn in laisses 133– 36, that is, the concept of strength through weakness. Roland’s long autobiographical speech appears in laisse 172, the second of the three devoted to the sword. The discourse begins with a flattering and moving apostrophe to the beauty and value of Durendal. The initial move­ment honors the beauty and divine provenance of the instrument that we or­dinarily assume to be an attribute of Roland. As part of the rhetoric of self-effacement, however, Roland metonymizes himself to the sword. From the beginning of the discourse, the sword has being and identity. Roland only in­troduces himself obliquely as the anonymous “cunte certaignie” in 1. 2320. Not until the moment when he recounts Charlemagne’s placing the sword around his waist, at God’s command, does Roland use the first person, thereby assuming a subjective personal existence in his own account. Thus, even though the discourse uses the first-person singular ten times in the eighteen-line speech, the “je” always defines itself as predicated by the controlling trinity of subjects which constitutes the real matter of the speech: God, Charlemagne, and the sword. In this hierarchy, Roland comes last on the chain of signifiers; each has existed prior to him and will continue to do so. Roland could hardly offer a better example of renunciation of the distentio, or fragmentation of consciousness, in worldly concerns that Augustine saw as necessary for a confession. And yet, by the same token, the discourse valorizes the speaker, as this kind of confession must, by recasting the historia of deed into an intentional theo­ria. The pronoun subject “je,” so obvious in the central section of the dis­course, occurs almost exclusively in the twelve lines forming the central sec­tion of the speech. These twelve lines recapitulate the conquests made by Roland with Durendal, and they correlate with the twelve blows he strikes on the three rocks while attempting to shatter the sword. The message could not be clearer: Roland sees himself as no more than a servant of God, Charle­magne, and the sword they have entrusted to him. He has justified their con­fidence by committing the exploits listed in the twelve lines; then, he ends the autobiography as he began it, with the effacement of the “je,” succeeded by the speaking subject’s glorification of God, Charlemagne, and Durendal. We can hardly ignore the rhetorical efficacity of such humility, however: at the end of the discourse, Roland stands triply signified in an equation of value predicates that sets him truly apart from his peers. Thanks to the Alexis, we know why Roland himself must utter this reca­ pitulation of life-as-consciousness. What we have learned of the mental state of the hero through his own words, as it were—we must bear in mind that for the Middle Ages, Roland was a real person—could only have been conveyed by objective narrative; the idea of participation, of direct contact with the sa­cred



logos, the mentality of the theosized being, would not have come through. We would not have had the icon of the Chanson, the autobiographical words uttered by the hero himself, an icon which valorized the rest of the narrative. As it is, we see that Roland clearly has moved toward the overcom­ing of self and time in the world requisite for Augustine’s notion of extensio. He is not there yet. Like Balaam’s ass refusing to proceed despite the blows rained upon its flanks by its impercipient master, Durendal refuses to yield to Roland’s bidding and shatter. Instead, it occasions the final insight on Roland’s part necessary for his ultimate triumph. At the end of the scene, in laisse 173, Roland strikes the twelfth and final blow of the sword on the stone. This blow of enlightenment splits the stone, leaving a mark of the whole scene on the stone—transformed by this stroke into a monument to the text, as the rock on Golgotha called up Matthew 21: 57 to the twelfth-century pilgrims. The gesture splitting the stone ends with a vertical movement as the sword rebounds and points to the sky: “cuntre ciel amunt est resortie” (1. 2341; It rebounds upward toward heaven). “Ciel,” “amunt,” “resortie,” these three indices underline the verticality of the sword’s movement in contrast to Roland’s willed act which was the downward stroke. The scene began with an assertion that Roland’s vision had failed: “ço sent Rollant que la veüe ad perdue” (1. 2297; Roland feels that he has lost his sight). This proved a help rather than a hindrance for the inner probing required by the autobiographical discourse, but it also proved accurate figuratively as regards the disposition of the sword. In attempting to destroy with his hands what his mind and words assert is not subordinate to him, but just the reverse, Roland shows that he still cannot fully intellect divine purpose. Now, how-ever, thanks to the sword’s independent revelation by the imperious extension toward heaven that constitutes its thrice vertical movement, Roland suddenly sees: “Quant veit li quens que ne la fraindrat mie” (1. 2342; When the count sees that he will not shatter it). What he sees is the necessity for him to follow the lead of the sword and turn his attention, for his final gestures and words, “cuntre ciel amunt.” And he will do this in the final three laisses. But first, for the remainder of laisse 173, he addresses the sword one last time, in a discourse where the self has been totally subordinated to the act of making manifest the presence of the sword as sacred object. In these lines, the sword undergoes a translatio from military arm to militant relic; both literally and figuratively it becomes a gemme, as the chartre and the cors were gemmes in the Alexis. The sword as relic now stands as a metaphor of the transformed hero. Just as the sword, we learn, contains holy relics within to signify its potency, so the hero, we have seen, contains a sacred inner being that defines his value as a warrior, a miles Christi. And it is that value that the last three laisses of the death scene will disclose. Just as the final sword stroke of his career ends with the sword pointing to heaven, so Roland’s final discourses and gestures will be toward heaven. To achieve



this, the récit becomes what it narrates: a semiosis of verticality whose implications are present and future. In this final scene, Roland’s con­sciousness, revealed by the consonance of word and gesture, fulfills Augus­tine’s requirements for extensio: past and future become fully fused in the willing of self in submission to God. Preparing himself by prayer, Roland once more mentally wills that stasis of unitary coherence in which temporal things have been purged and only those facets of his life which yield intelligence of divine purpose are present. In the final short prayer Roland utters, we see his consciousness “extended, not to things that shall be and shall pass away,” but “to those things that are before”; namely, the Resurrection themes of Old and New Testament: “Veire Patene, ki unkes ne mentis, Seint Lazaron de mort resurrexis E Danïel des leons guaresis, Guaris de mei l’anme de tuz perilz Pur les pecchez que en ma vie fis!” Sun destre guant a Deu en puroffrit, Seint Gabriel de sa main l’ad pris.


[“Loyal Father, you who never failed us, / who resurrected Saint Lazarus from the dead, / and saved your servant Daniel from the lions: / now save my soul from peril / for the sins I committed in my lifetime!” / Then he held out his right glove to God, / Saint Gabriel took it from his hand.]

The prayer shows Roland intently focusing, “not purposelessly, but purpo­ sively…on the prize of [his] supernal vocation,” that is, heaven, where he “may hear the voice of [God’s] praise,” and “contemplate [his] delights which neither come nor go.” To emphasize the correctness of the three readings that Roland has given of himself and his arms in response to the misreading of the Saracen, more im­ mediately, but also of Ganelon and Oliver, the heralds of heaven, Saint Mi­chael, Cherubim, and Gabriel, descend to take his outstretched hand and transport his soul to the celestial realm, thus confirming his translation from life to Vita.



Epilogue The Snare of Words: …on the term “Romanesque”1* Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth Proverbs 6: 2

I. “Romanesque” was coined in the early nineteenth century for the wrong reasons. At least that’s how we look at it today. It’s a well-known phenomenon that assessments of historical eras fluctuate in the ebb and flow of cultural history. This has been particularly true for the Middle Ages whose art, artifacts, and monuments fueled disputes as to their importance from the Renaissance to modernity. These quarrels frequently originated in preconceptions for which medieval culture was but a means to an end. The trend began in the Renaissance, which, as Hans Blumenberg observes, demoted the Middle Ages “to the rank of a provisional phase of human selfrealization, one that was bound to be left behind, and finally dis­qualified as a mere interruption between antiquity and modern times, as a ‘dark age.’”1 This meant that the medieval period entered the modern age as a devalued signifier. This tendency to appropriate the medieval past for present pur­poses perpetrates a fascinating irony of cultural history. For in predicating of medieval culture attributes derived from the shifting ideologies of modernism, scholars did not seem to realize that reshaping the past for present purposes was something medieval writers themselves practiced with consummate skill. Think, for example, of the period from the late ninth to the early thirteenth century known as “Romanesque.” The term derives initially from architecture. As we will see below, the scholars who coined the term in 1818 believed that salient architectural characteristics offered insights into the culture of the early Middle Ages. They were influenced undoubtedly by the medieval mania then raging in France, fed in part by the wildly popular novels of Walter Scott. Lending immediacy to this movement were medieval buildings towering above the urban landscape, a phenomenon brilliantly exploited by Victor Hugo in Notre-Dame de Paris (1831 and 1832). 1 * This chapter is a thoroughly revised and expanded version of “Periodization and the Politics of Perception: A Romanesque Example,” published in Poetics Today 10,1 (Spring, 1989), pp. 127–154.



Given the plethora of medieval churches surviving in the larger towns and cities, citizens with even the most untutored eye could discern differences in size and style between edifices with round arches on thick columns, smallish windows, and relatively low ceilings, as opposed to those whose soaring pointed arches, slim columns, and seemingly immense windows, had come to be known as “Gothic.” In seeking to explain such stark architectural differences between the early and late Middle Ages, scholars proposed the term “Romanesque.” For the nascent materialism of the early nineteenth century, architectural substance provided elements to construe period typology. If nineteenth-century scholars took monumental architecture as a reference point for elaborating period principles, they were correctly reading the intentions of their medieval precursors. Monumental ecclesiastical architecture played a major role in defining the way that visionary thinkers sought to define their own age in contradistinction to preceding eras. One has only to think of Abbot Suger, who, in the 1130s, undertook to rebuild and enlarge the abbey church of Saint-Denis. With conscious intent, he set about transforming a small Carolingian basilica into what we recognize today as the most innovative architectural style of the twelfth century. Lest their be any doubt of his intention to build something new and more resplendent, he recorded his intentions “at the urging of his brothers:” In the twenty-third year of our administration, on a certain day when we sat in general chapter conferring with our brethren about matters both common and private, these very beloved brethren and sons began strenuously to beseech me in charity that I might not allow the fruits of our so great labors to be passed over in silence; and rather to save for the memory of posterity, in pen and ink, those additions which the generous munificence of Almighty God had bestowed upon this church, in the time of our prelacy, in the acquisition of new assets as well as in the recovery of lost ones, in the multiplication of improved possessions, in the construction of buildings, and in the accumulation of gold, silver, most precious gems and very good textiles.2

While there is no doubt that Suger recognized his edifice as a material reality, the De administratione repeatedly equates the building project with textual references: Scripture, the hagiography of Saint Denis, and poems that Suger tells us he wrote and inscribed at key places—the great bronze entry doors, the high altar, and so forth. The purpose of the inscriptions is to allow parishioners to grasp the paradox of how ineffable spirituality can irradiate massive stone and bronze constructions. Unlike their nineteenth-century avatars, Suger and his contemporaries viewed significant monuments and images as manifestations of symbolic texts. And this was so even when “the text” took the form of monumental architecture. So



although medieval and modern thinkers both constructed narratives of the past for their own purposes using, in the case of Romanesque, ecclesiastical architecture, the monuments were viewed very differently in each case. For moderns, they are material objects connoting a variety of references to Scripture, sacred and secular history, and liturgical functions. For medievals, they were a space resonating with transformative symbols, light, divine being. We must bear this difference in mind when reviewing the story of how the term “Romanesque” was coined at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Then, by way of underlining the very different nature of early medieval perspectives, we’ll turn to a tumulus written and painted in 1028 to commemorate the completion of the new Roman­esque cathedral of Chartres and the death of its builder, Bishop Ful­bert. First, the modernist view. In 1818, Charles de Gerville, a Norman botanist and amateur archi­tectural historian, proposed the term Romanesque to designate what had hitherto been called “le style normand.” Despite the success of the term, Gerville illustrates Albert Pauphilet’s comment that “the Middle Ages is unfortunately destined to inspire false ideas in the minds of modern man.”3 Gerville’s misconception was that this style was neither more nor less than a debased imitation of Roman architecture. As he says in a letter to a friend written in December 1818: I have sometimes spoken to you of Romanesque architecture. It is my own term, and strikes me as a happy replacement for the meaningless names “Saxon” and “Norman.” Everyone agrees that this heavy and vulgar architecture is the opus romanorum deformed and successively degraded by our primitive ancestors. The same can be said for the Latin language, which, in a similarly mangled form, gave rise to this Romance tongue whose origins and degradation are so analogous to the origin and development of [Romanesque] architecture.4

Gerville makes two significant assumptions here. The first—to which we will return in a moment—is to draw an analogy between language and architecture. Secondly, he views the churches as botched imitations of Roman basilicas, rather than as designs with a purpose of their own. He rejects the indigenous terms “Saxon” and “Norman” because they do not signify (les mots insignifiants de saxonne et normande). They are empty signifiers, in Gerville’s view, because of their inability to connect this class of building with a recognizable stylistic genealogy. “Romanesque,” on the other hand, is meaningful (signifiant) because it invests the monuments with a hierarchical genealogy that is both classical in origin and scientific in its taxonomy. Romanesque edifices can now be seen as avatars of a resplendent classical model: the Roman basilica. Their new genealogy also happens to coincide with Gerville’s



classically-oriented philosophical anthropology. The Roman identification is not without irony, however. On the one hand, the buildings bespeak impeccable classical origins, while on the other, their “degraded” form proclaims the inferiority of their builders, the medieval artisans so inferior to their ancient precursors: l’opus romanorum dénaturé ou successivement dégradé par nos rudes ancêtres. Gerville clings, nonetheless to the name, “Romanesque,” in order to circumvent any notion of rupture between the classical and the medieval, a rupture that would ill suit the concept of systemic conti­nuity that, as a good botanist, he espouses. To grasp Gerville’s intentions, we must remember that he was a botanist first and an amateur archeologist second. Not surprisingly, the theory of imitation he imputes to architecture romane accords with his “scientific” orientation, itself a powerful ideology of the era. In the early nineteenth century botany, shaped by the “artificial” taxonomic system devised by Lin­naeus (1707-78), and by the later, “natural” system of Antoine de Jussieu (1748-1836), was considered both a science and a philosophy of nature. Botany manuals of the period stress continuity between the antique and modern periods. It was Greek philosophy, particularly Aristotle, “the father of natural history,” that gave birth to truly scientific phytological inquiry.5 According to this historical perspective, the Romans continued the work of the Greeks, but the Middle Ages represented a major interruption in the progress of scientific study. Thomas Castle describes this period as …emphatically…‘the dark age,’ [during which] a dismal gloom enveloped the whole of the civilized world; ignorance, superstition and barbarism tyrannized over learning and genius; knowledge of any kind, was to be acquired only by searching among the rubbish of monasteries; fabulous legends supplied the place of truth, and the deception of a crafty priesthood debased, at the same time that they enslaved the minds of men.... it was not until the middle of the sixteenth century, that the sun of science again burst from a thick cloud, and shed its rays upon the north of Europe.6

While Castle praises the “artificial” system of classification devised by Linnaeus, he espouses Jussieu’s natural method. A key difference between their systems lies in the do­main of word and image: Whereas Linnaeus treats plants as conventional signs; Jussieu views them as images. Linnaeus undertook to synthesize “the observa­tions and plans of his predecessors” and he “established an artificial sys­tem, characterized by the simplicity of its foundations, the perspi­cuity of its arrangement, and the infinite extent of its applications.” 7 In our terms, Linnaeus may be said to have established a grammar of plants sufficiently useful for discussion and general recognition, but insufficiently precise for the serious observing scientist. Jussieu himself describes the Linnaean method as conventional and con­cludes that:



…these systematic classifications must be considered mere rationalized tables in which plants are laid out arbitrarily according to conventional signs designed to make them easily identified, waiting to be assigned their true place in the order of nature, which ... is the only object worthy of science.8

Jussieu preferred to study the plants themselves and to base his taxonomy on their description as physical objects. An extract from the official Register of the Royal Academy of Sciences for July 1, 1789 outlines how he aimed to provide a descriptive definition, an image of the whole and its parts: Ultimately, the botanist must examine, on the one hand, all the organs of which plants are composed and, on the other, every aspect of every organ, that is, every distinguishing trait.9

Furthermore, the defense of the natural method is based on the simi­larity of the images of the groupings of plants so established: The existence of these groups cannot be placed in doubt; it is incontestably proven by these similarities, which not only link numerous species of plants in distinct genres, but also bring together several different genres in one grouping, in a striking manner.10

More to the point, since the natural system is image based, relying as it does on resemblance, it could claim mimetic fidelity to nature: Botanists have sometimes even been forced to abandon the principal char­ acteristics of ’ their [artificial] classification in order not to separate species or genres that Nature herself forced them to bring together.11

Of course, from the perspective of representation, both systems undertake to convert perceived objects into a symbolic order, a lan­g uage. But there are differences between Linnaeus and Jussieu based on the de­gree of conventionality each is willing to concede. Linnaeus tends toward the arbitrary, while his successor, a contemporary of Rousseau, prefers the analogy with natural language. If Jussieu opts for the natural sign, one suspects that it is because of its purported iconicity. This is in line with E. H. Gombrich’s notion that images are naturally recognizable because they show what they depict, whereas words, being based on convention, are abstract.12 We do find, in fact, that botanists contemporary with Jussieu apply the analogy between his natural system and natural language to elabo­rate a cultural anthropology, somewhat as we see Gerville doing for medieval architecture. Thus Thomas Castle links the development of language in primitive humans to



the discovery and naming of plants. The interaction of humans with their herbal environment “must have been [a] natural circumstance to call forth a peculiar language, for distinguishing one plant from another.”13 Revealingly, the link between humans and nature lies (as in Genesis) in naming: That a natural language must have been the result of necessity and conve­ nience, is very certain; for without it, our ancestors could only have passively admired or valued the boundless gifts of nature.... by a simple, and, as it were, an instinctive dialect, they readily secured themselves from harm, and were capable of judging and employing the succeeding blessings of the seasons to their necessary comfort and support.14

Both the artificial or conventional system, described as “an immortal index to plants, simple in its construction, and comprehensive in its application,” as well as the natural language model, described as allowing us “to read the simple laws and exquisite regulations of the vegetable kingdom” privilege the observing subject, the scien­tist, over the observed phenomenon.15 It is the scientist who observes and identifies the natural object, classifying it in accordance with the principles of botany, principles which require him to rename the observed phenomenon in scientific, i.e., Latin, terminology.16 We find, in short, a presupposition that the object is not simply observed but appropriated by the scientific language into which it is transposed. Furthermore, scientific study emphasizes universal, rather than particular, manifestations in the objects scrutinized. In the Introduction to the 1789 edition of Jussieu’s Genera Plantarum, the editor notes that his natural method could be reduced to two basic principles, both of which involve linking individual phenomena to universal schema.17 Scientific systematization, on Jussieu’s account, requires assembling multiple examples of a species with common traits as a first step. In the second instance, after carefully noting the most common characteristics, compared with more variable ones, the common traits will be aggregated as salient features, while variants will be excluded from the class. The resultant universal description of a species resides, in consequence, on creating an image based on “existing affinities.” What this means is that the particular example has no place as such in the universal description. The common name for a given plant, a name that will vary from one locale to another, from one dialect to another, from one language to another, yields to a Latin name meant to be scientific and universal. In accordance with the scientific taxonomy developed by Jussieu, the new name encodes genus and species identification; even a phytological genealogy. But it will not connote any of the local legends, names and associations found in the myriad vernacular locales where the plant grows. We recognize here the same impulse that led



Gerville to reject “the meaningless terms “Saxon” and “Norman” in favor of a Latin designation: opus romanorum and vernacular equivalent, architecture romane. We need not look beyond Jussieu’s two principles of the natural method for studying and classifying plants to discover what Gerville achieved by applying the scientific principles of his botani­cal métier to his architectural interests. In renaming the Saxon and Norman architecture, he identified the individual manifestations of early medieval Norman churches as links in a chain stretching, temporally and spatially, from classical Rome to the French High Gothic of Chartres. This move corresponds to Jussieu’s first principle, which he explains by comparing plants either to links in a chain formed by the vegetal orders in nature, or to a geographic map on which each specimen occupies a fixed point whose relationship to the whole may be readily determined.18 Gerville’s depreciation of Romanesque style conforms to Jus­sieu’s second principle: “Distinguishing traits for each species should be measured and plotted according to their relative value on a scale in which one constant trait should equal several variable ones.”19 Since he’s weighing architectural traits, the Roman arch is the salient distinguishing constant permitting the identification of the opus romanorum. Local deviations from the classical norm constitute variables to be deplored and discounted. We saw above that Castle links the development of language to the interaction of primitive peoples with the plant world: early humans developed language skills by naming plants necessary for daily life. He speaks of “an instinctive dialect” by which humans managed to transform their environment into a cognitive order: “They ... were capable of judging and employing the succeeding blessings of the seasons to their necessary comfort and support.”20 The link between plants and naming with the corollary notion of extending the exercise into daily life suggest how pervasive was the language analogy for the period. A moment’s reflection reveals two reasons for Gerville’s harsh assessment of Romanesque architecture. First, in terms of Jussieu’s second principle, variables outweigh constants thereby undermining the possibility of achieving an orderly system of classification. Unruly variables were interpreted as evidence of architectural illiteracy corroborated by the failure to reproduce classical models competently. Mimetic incompetence segues to the second reason for Gerville’s dismay: the analogy of Romanesque architecture with linguistic evolution from Latin to French. If Old French “mutilates” (estropie) Latin in the same way Romanesque architecture botches its imitation of Roman architecture, the failure results from linguistic incompetence. This makes sense when we remember that for Gerville, competence in classical Latin would presuppose the ability to combine correct speech (recte loquendum)



Figure 1: Leonardo da Vinci, Vitruvian Man (c. 1497)

with elegant speech (bene loquendum). He would certainly construe the reduced number of cases and declensions in Old French as examples of its “mutilation” of Latin. He would undoubtedly cite a similar decrease in the range of stylistic registers to explain why both recte loquendum and bene loquendum would be impossible in Old French.21 Enlightenment concepts of aesthetics and science, each founded on rational order and symmetry, motivate Gerville’s judgment. Having decided that Romanesque architecture sought to imitate its classical precursors, Gerville cannot be faulted for assessing the results according to neoclassical rules of expression. There is a logical link between his praise of Vitruvian symmetry in architecture and his bias, as a botanist, in favor of lucid scientific expression. 22 A drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Vitruvian Man—showing the human body superposed on a circle and a square—illustrates Vitruvius’s belief that the proportions of the human body are the key to symmetry in building as in the cosmos (Figure 1).



We saw a similar equation of natural science and symmetry at work in Jussieu’s classification of the plant world. We can even see these principles at work in the domain of landscape and greenhouse architecture in the early nineteenth century, a fact that helps explain Gerville’s natural association of botany and architecture. Two images contemporary with Gerville are instructive in this regard. Both depict gardens (Figure 2) and hothouses (Figure 3) at Glasnevin, near Dublin, as they appeared in 1800. Known today as the National Botanical Garden of Ireland, the site was established in 1795 by order of the Irish Parliament “to promote scientific knowledge in the various branches of agriculture.” Laid out under the auspices of the Royal Dublin Society by Dr. Walter Wade, Professor of Botany, the gardens played a central role in botanical and horticultural research in Ireland.23 Figure 2 shows a detailed survey of the Botanical Garden at Glasnevin with all its components: various types of gardens, the arboretum, main residence with adjacent greenhouses, etc. A first glance at the illustration shows an irregular natural space divided into myriad smaller parcels, equally asymmetrical. The general sense of irregular natural terrain makes a stark contrast with the severe symmetry of the “Hot Houses” (Figure 3), which appear in the Survey (Figure 4) as rectangles near the bottom of the plan (number “36” in the legend). Indeed the illustrated “Elevation of the Hot Houses…” (Figure 5) could hardly be more geometrical. The schematic elevation shows pronounced horizontal and vertical lines, intersected by the triangles of the gables—not to mention the large central bay flanked by two smaller replicas on either side. Closer inspection of the survey (Figure 6), however, reveals a systematic order imposed on the irregular contours of the terrain. The twenty-seven acres of the original site have been rationally plotted along didactic lines to illustrate the practice of agriculture, horticulture, arboriculture, herbiculture (including medicinal plants), shrub cultivation, and other botanical pursuits. Within the rubrics, one finds further ordering imposed on nature through the assignment of garden plots to the flora appropriate to particular animal species: the “Cattle Garden” (sheep, goat, horned cattle, horse, swine, etc.). These plots are arranged into two beds illustrating, in the first, samples of “wholesome herbage,” contrasted, in the second, with “injurious herbage” for each animal species. The assurance with which the Botanical Garden transforms natural landscape into an ordered representation of Jussieu’s principles speaks tellingly about the mindset that Charles de Gerville brought to his critique of Romanesque architecture. Trained in a method that privileged constants over variables, convinced that the formal image was the essence of Ro­manesque architecture, Gerville evaluated rather than questioned its monuments. Yet even though he could not conceive of Romanesque as a new vernacular architecture in its own right—in the same way that he could not imagine Old French as a language that would soon come to rival Latin—Gerville did recognize the tension between



Figure 2. Survey of the Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, 1800

Figure 3. Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, Elevation of Hot Houses as they appeared in 1800.



Figure 4: Survey of the Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, 1800, detail showing placement of hothouses.

Figure 5: Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, Elevation of Hot Houses as they appeared in 1800, detail showing rectilinear, classical symmetry of buildings.



Figure 6: Survey of the Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, 1800, detail showing didactic schema of garden plots the Roman model and its vernacular avatar. But if the intuition was correct, his rationale could not have been wider of the mark. II. As it happens, Gerville was not alone. E. R. Curtius, for example, conceived the Middle Ages as characterized by nascent conflict between Rome and Romania—as the territory now encompassed by the Romance languages was known—“a tension which [even] Dante was unable to resolve ... theoretically.”24 Curtius, like Gerville, viewed the Middle Ages as overshadowed by the greater aesthetic and philosophical prestige of Rome. But why, then, speak of a “theoretical impasse” if Romania was simply subaltern to Rome? The answer lies in Curtius’s view of the historical tension between the two. Unlike Gerville, he recognizes that many medieval innovations result from an oblique, rather than a direct correspondence between original and model. He calls this relationship translatio, meaning “transfer.” “An old school example,” Curtius notes, is pratem ridet, ‘the meadow laughs.’ Human laughter is ‘transferred’ to nature.”25  While it is the case that translatio has been seen as characteristic of Romanesque cultural production, it only partially captures the dynamic exchange



between Rome and Romania. Rather than metaphor—which is what “transfer” means—I prefer the term “performative mimesis” to describe the burst of inventive imagination that shaped a newly empowered vernacular language and spawned a host of new forms of lyric, narrative, art, architecture, not to mention innovations in the civic and political spheres. Performative mimesis betokens greater innovation within vernacular culture than translatio by itself denotes.26 Curtius perceives “a theoretical impasse” between the esthetics and poetics of the ancient world as compared to the Middle Ages because he was trying to balance disparate goals from different periods as an exercise of appropriation and judgment. We may avoid the problem by viewing the tension between Rome and Romania as, to borrow Norman Bryson’s formula, “a topology of dynamic interaction of practices within the same historical boundary, the same space and time of a given social formation.”27 As it happens, we can observe how the eleventh century itself viewed the creation of the new architectural style that would come to be called, some eight hundred years later, “Romanesque.” By chance, we possess a contemporary representation of the cathedral of Chartres, built by Bishop Fulbert—the most powerful and learned prelate in France—when the Carolingian edifice burned in 1023. A two-folio tumulus or tombeau produced at Chartres after his death in 1028 shows Fulbert in his new church (Figures 7-12). We find that the contemporary artifact stresses just those elements that Gerville ignores: the relationship between artwork, producer, and the social formation. 28 In fact, the tumulus of Ful­bert casts the tension between the Roman and the Romanesque as a dynamic interaction of practices within the same social formation. The tumu­lus, in short, illustrates history, as the figural fulfillment of antiquity, rather than as philology, that is, as a reconstitution of the past. Fulbert, like his mentor, Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II), had a reputation as one of the most learned men of his time. The tumulus commemorating his death is the work of two monks: Sigo, a writer, composed the eulogy on the recto and verso of the first folio (Figures 7, 8, 9, and 11), while Andre de Mici did the painting on the second folio (Figures 9 and 12) and perhaps the decorative arch and columns on the recto of the first folio and the decorated borders on the verso. The tumulus is thoroughly interartistic in execution, since each folio contains inverse proportions of visual and verbal elements. That is, the painting contains a legend in the background over the church, while the eulogy is placed within a represented architectural space usually reserved for canon tables or portraits of gospel writers (Figures 13 and 14). The tumulus would probably have been displayed on the anniver­sary of Fulbert’s death each year. In view of its commemorative func­tion, as well as the dual meaning of church edifices at the time—literally as earthly temples, figuratively as



Figure 7: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, MS. BnF, Chartres NA 4, fol. 33r, ca. 1028

Figure 8: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, MS. BnF, Chartres NA 4, fol. 33v, ca. 1028



Figure 9: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, MS. BnF, Chartres NA 4, fol. 34r, ca. 1028



Figure 10: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, fol. 33r (reconstruction by Merlet, Chartres, 1893) icons of the spiritual Jeru­salem—we may well see the miniature as portraying the translation of Fulbert and his flock to the spiritual Jerusalem at the end of time, a spiritual Jerusalem here depicted as a triumph of the monumental architecture that Fulbert has championed. Rather than address the technical details of the architectural representation, however, I want to talk about the tension or conflicts in the levels of discourse within the work and the way they define a conception of Romanesque based on periodicity rather than on periodization. The whole work consists of a careful employment of visual and verbal elements, conceptual and perceptual schemas self-consciously emphasizing references from classical Rome in a new setting. The concept of the tumulus, a literary or artistic work commemorating the life of a significant person, is itself classical; the sepulchral monument serves as metaphor for the absent body (see appendix for texts). As a cenotaph, the tumulus poses the problem of antiquity as a tension between two empires and two styles: the Roman and the Chris­tian. The Roman artistic formula, recalled in our examples here by the Roman arches, the columns, the basilica form of the church, and the Latin language, combines with a set of



Figure 12: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, fol. 34r (reconstruction by Merlet, Chartres, 1893)

Figure 11: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, fol. 33v (reconstruction by Merlet, Chartres, 1893)

Christian elements—the ritual space, the idea of commemoration itself, the concept of the pastor and his flock, the translation of the material world out of time and history to a spiritual Jerusalem, and of course the idea of the empty tomb as a plentitude of signification. The real drama of the tumulus and of the monument it represents occurs at the nexus of two opposing con­ceptions of language: the Roman sublime and the Christian prosaic. Well versed in Roman conventions, Sigo and Andre de Mici render the antique formulas adequately in order to mark the difference between them and the Christian formulas. What is new in the tumulus, and what the tumulus tells us is new in Fulbert’s church, is the scale of its tensions and harmonies. Ful­bert has taken the Roman monumental discourse, the martial idiom of the Roman Empire, and articulated it in a social and vernacular set­ting previously reserved for architecture of a much smaller and more private order.29 The tumulus shows the appropriation of Roman discourse as history in at least five ways: (1) the tumulus itself as a Roman form, (2) the Roman triumphal arch as the containing image of the new Christian space, (3) the Roman arch repeated throughout, (4) the employment of Roman columns as a major element of the



Figure 13: Saint Mark Writing his Gospel, Chartres, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 120 (XLIX), fol. 57v (Delaporte 1929: plate 5) architectural discourse, and (5) the format of the titulus lettering deriving from Roman monu­mental inscription. But we do not simply find an appropriation of Roman discourse elements, as Gerville and others thought. These ele­ments are redeployed as a tension between contradictory styles: sermo superbus, the high style of the Roman Empire, and sermo humilis, the low style of the Christian imperium.30 The drama of contradiction shows an inversion of hierarchy in which the sermo superbus marks the triumph of sermo humilis.



Figure 14: Ebbo Gospels, Canon Table, Epernay, Bibliothèque Municipale, Rheims, MS. 1, fol. 13r, ca. 816-835

We see the Roman high style in the splendor of the monumental architecture, in the magnificence of the ritual costumes of Fulbert and the aristocrats, and in the titulus lettering. In contrast, the controlling low style appears in the monochrome of the eulogy, contrasted with the polychrome of the illumination; in the simplicity of the language of the text and the image it gives of Fulbert, oxymoronically portraying him as an illustrious shepherd, “an intense light given by God to this world, supporter of the poor, consoler of the bereaved, a restrainer of thieves and robbers.” By marking



the monument with the tension of the high and low discourse modes, the tumulus suggests the freezing of history within the ideological context of sermo humilis. The tension between the two styles points to a third stage to come, a soteriological moment that will resolve the tension of history by its passing. The end of history will dissolve this stylistic difference, which is also the very sign of history. Looking beyond the ideology of sermo humilis, we should note the doubleedged nature of the asymmetries of word and image imparted by the tensions we have observed. The low and high styles, for example, are deployed asymmetrically in two contradictory discourses that interrogate each other. Through them, the tumulus stresses continuity and memory on the one hand, innovation and discontinuity on the other. Both word and image hypostasize a moment of time that ex­tends the church and its human members into the eternity promised by Revelation. Yet by the act of transforming—or performing—the New Jerusalem into the Chartrain vernacular, the tumulus sets in motion a counter­movement towards its social context. It betrays awareness that systems and institutions can be social phenomena as well as theological concepts. Two expressive registers convey these tensions. First, we find an affirmative or authoritative narrative thrust that stresses historical continuity. Overlaid on the narrative of continuity lies a critical iconology denoting rupture. The treatment of aedicule and arch—prominent architectural features of the tumulus—illustrate the work’s authoritative idiom.31 André de Mici binds aedicule and arch in a performative mimesis that does not simply celebrate Fulbert’s architectural innovation, but recreates it dynamically on the panels of the tumulus. Arch and columns give depth to the panels transforming them into representative “aedicules” themselves. And that is, of course, the intent of Siger and André de Mici: to create a shrine to Fulbert, their beloved brother in Christ. Looking at the painting of the cathedral, with its many arched spaces framed by columns, one is struck by the way André de Mici emphasizes what we might call “aedicular expressivity.” That means simply that he breaks up the unitary architectural space into a plethora of smaller spaces or rooms. In essence, he shows Fulbert’s cathedral as many little rooms within the one great mansion. By these brush strokes, André enfolds both the tumulus and the great cathedral it portrays back into the Word of Scripture, John 14:2: In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. in domo Patris mei mansiones multae sunt si quo minus dixissem vobis quia vado parare vobis locum.

But what about the arch? What does it contribute to Siger’s authoritative lexicon? We have only to note the ubiquity of arches in these panels to recognize it



as their most pervasive visual element. Its dominance suggests that already in the early eleventh century, the arch was the sign of the Roman in the Romanesque. Three main points will help us to understand how the arch thematizes continuity and authority. First, in the eulogy panel, the arch frames the text. By enfolding the tribute to Fulbert within a symbolic form associated with the hierarchical register of Rome—the symbol of the Christian imperium—the arch serves as a metaphor for the biblical discourse that underlies the eulogy. Divided into tympanum above and portal below—separating the text into two parts—the arch visually relays the meaning of the first few lines of the eulogy: “On this day passed [migravit] to God our father of worthy memory, Fulbert.” At the same time, it equates hac die, “on this day,” with the implicit in illo die, the day of judgment of the Revelation subtext. Second, the architectural frame of the eulogy conveys the sense of dying as migrating, as crossing the threshold from one space into another. The decorated lintel separating the two spaces in which the titulus is inscribed shows that the day of judgment separates worldly from celestial space, and gives hac die its full meaning. Hac die—Ful­bert’s personal day of judgment, the community’s collective day of loss, the day commemorated by the tumulus—lies in the celestial space of the tympanum and so authorizes the translation from hac die to in illo die. The continuity of authoritative discourse makes the visual image continuous with the titulus; each complements and completes the meaning of the other. Third, note how the juxtaposition of the words of the eulogy with the architectural frame confronts the particular human being, Fulbert, with the universal: the Christian imperium. The Roman arch traversed by the lintel (Figures 4 and 7) signifies the division of the Christian universe into two hierarchical spaces firmly divided but linked by the exemplary “mi­gration” of exemplary figures like Fulbert. In this scenario, the Chartrain bishop is cast as a universal example of the Christian commemorative message, on the one hand, and as a historical personage, on the other. As Bishop of Chartres he represents Christ, and as Fulbert, the man, he is historical. As sign, Fulbert reiterates the continuity of authoritative Christian dis­ course and the continuity of Rome in the form of its commemorative icon, the arch. By their obsessive repetition in the painting, the Roman arches signifying the link between sky and earth perform the theological equation of the one and the many. This sign of divine presence in the world also serves as a reminder that a particular church never stands alone, but symbolizes the universal Church it represents. With this in mind, we can better understand the ubiquity of arches here. They are deployed, for example, in the horizontal bands forming the successive roof segments progressively truncated in the three tiers of the west tower and in the roof sections and tower at the east end. The church as a whole schematizes the Roman triumphal arch, the one in which the many variant arches are dilated upon. Variation is crucial here to emphasize the concept of the one and the many. To this



end, we find the asymmetrically depicted arches, as well as the different kinds and estates of the people they frame. The painting shows the conjoined forces of church and state, represented by Ful­bert, on the one hand, and, on the other, Count Odo of Chartres and an unidentified nobleman next to him. We recognize this as the sermo superbus of the Roman triumphal arch. Fulbert and Count Odo appear in full regalia, reinforcing the ceremonial image of church and state jointly supporting, like the columns that flank them, the Christian edifice. The collateral arches remind the viewer that the world order unified by the central arch is also a social order dependent on propriety of place or rank within the polis. The lateral aisles contain the marginal orders: the women segregated in the nave according to custom, and the clerks on the altar side. The titulus over the roof of the church serves to remind viewers that the Word of God guides the social order. By its dominant position over the edifice, the titulus serves as a rubric for the painting, thereby dramatizing the hierarchy of word over image: “The venerable Fulbert nourished the sheep of God.” We see, in sum, how the authoritative register reaffirms Christianity as an inclusive philosophy, a philosophy of appropriation symbolized by the cathedral itself. Not only does it inflect the Roman triumphal arch in its architectural idiom, but it presents itself as a new metonymic system: cathedra, the seat symbolizing the bishop’s authority, and eccle­sia, the Christian order. This rhetorical dominance asserts hegemony over history as narrative. Cathedra and ecclesia are steps in the divine hierarchy articulated by pseudoDionysius and translated for the West by Johannes Eriugena, whose work was espoused by Ful­bert’s mentor, Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II). When we look at the critical iconology of the tumulus, we find that the visual text proves asymmetrical with the authoritative inten­tionality we have just contemplated. In fact, it interjects hermeneutic asymmetry—contradiction— into the work. The painting does so by refusing, at least for us, to function as a natural sign, transparent and with a meaning predetermined by the texts to which it alludes. Instead, the painting suggests alternate readings of the verbal texts and of its own narrative. In fact, the miniature allows, us to bypass the accom­panying and restraining tituli altogether and seek other narratives, other meanings. Critical iconology reverses the word-image hierarchy; it privileges the image to reveal what the word has chosen to suppress. In this case, the critical iconology allows us to perceive the rather extraordinary emphasis on the local historical context, on the social details so concretely portrayed. The emphasis on construction, on architecture, reminds us that even at this early date in the Middle Ages, church building was, as John James has pointed out, a collaborative effort of skilled workmen—laymen, not ecclesiastics.32 James reminds us that: “more time and effort was spent building ... cathedrals than on



any other medieval activity. From their size and complexity churches like Chartres should be able to give us a priceless insight into the social fabric of those times.”33 Even though James is talking about the Gothic period, the tumulus reminds us that Fulbert’s Romanesque church inaugurates a new age of monumental architecture inextricably linked to social and political forces. By way of reinforcing this thought, we need only recall that Fulbert’s mentor, Gerbert of Aurillac, rebuilt and aggrandized the cathedral of Rheims in the late tenth century when he held that see before moving to Rome as Sylvester II. The panels of the tumulus portray the social and political constituents of Chartres in the 1020s. They analyze the fragile political alliance between Church and State, and the hierarchies within each. We cannot view the tumulus as a neutral document. Even though the image of Fulbert preaching in his cathedral projects an archetypically pastoral scene—the good shepherd instructing his flock—the painting also leaves no doubt as to who should control the word. It also marshals powerful evidence that divine authority underlies even the highest secular offices. Fulbert heads the ecclesiastical contingent on the right of the miniature wearing sacerdotal robes that accurately portray his rank. Facing Fulbert in the foreground is Count Odo of Chartres, a benefactor of the church according to his necrology, found in the same manuscript that con­tains the tumulus. Fulbert and Odo appear as joint heads of the local social order, a representation suggesting harmony between church and state. But may not this same scene be read not as two orders joined under the triumphal arch of the church, but as two orders confront­ing each other as rival claimants to the authority of imperial Rome signified by the embracing arch? Remember, the arches portrayed on both sides of the tumulus define and support the cathedral and the elegy; in so doing they figure the translatio or transformation of imperial Rome into the Christian imperium. But does that mean—as those who speak of translatio studii or translatio imperii often seem to imply—that the initial meaning has been effaced, has been replaced by the transferred sense? The answer hinges on the medieval meaning of translatio, which as Ernst Robert Curtius reminds us, is ‘metaphor.’ In European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, he notes “the most important ‘figure’ is the metaphor and mεταϕορá, translatio, means ‘transfer’.”34 Now, while ‘transfer’ denotes a shift in the basic authority of a meaning or reference, it does not abolish a term’s original or literal signification. Indeed, should the original meaning be effaced, the ‘transferred’ or metaphoric connotation would lose its force entirely. In short, the whole point of the translatio of imperial Rome to the Christian Roman imperium, lies in the historical force of the Roman empire. We are now in a position to grasp the underlying ambiguity of the Church-State juxtaposition of the central panel of Fulbert’s tumulus. The confrontation implicitly stages the kinds of questions that will come to the fore with the confrontation of Pope Gregory VII



and Henry IV at Canossa in 1077, and, indeed, never ceased to roil the waters of medieval politics: Church and state? Church or state? Church versus state? In Fulbert’s tumulus, the dynamic grouping and regrouping of the elements allows for indeterminate readings, each one of which represents an authentic historical situation. Ideally, Fulbert and Odo do jointly rule the secular and ecclesiastical territory at Chartres. This in itself constitutes an authen­tic difference between the Roman Empire and the eleventh century. Under the Roman Empire, the church was part of and subordinate to the state. In the eleventh century, the church was autonomous. Andre’s painting shows church and state in their ideality as two equal power points in feudal society; it shows them in their difference from Rome. It also shows them in their difference from one another, and from the ideal of world harmony. We need only consider how the miniature portrays Count Odo surrounded by his followers on the one side, and, on the other, Fulbert backed by his folk. Then we note that the meeting occurs within the cathedral, a metonymic symbol for the world and the universe. All these indicators suggest that the message is less one of pastoral harmony than of pastoral hegemony. Quite simply, the miniature claims that Fulbert and his successors possess greater power than Count Odo and his descendents. It also raises questions about the equation of monumen­tality and ecclesiastical power in the new cathedral. The tumulus thus shows the faille, the scission in the structure of feudal power: the church-state conflict of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It begins to look as though this monumental legitimation of feudal power may, at the same time, be a monument to a crisis of legitimation of that power. Fulbert’s tumulus portrays a social formation residing on the twin pillars of secular and ecclesiastical forces whose equilibrium accords perfectly with Christian doctrine. Between Christian ideal and the Realpolitik of the eleventh century, however, lies troubled water. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the symbolic schema of the work suggests the presence of contradictory forces contesting the conflicting claims—secular and sacred—to legitimation. We may miss this symbolic tension because we have been accustomed to seeking an authoritative voice as the unifying factor in medieval texts. But works that include pictures convey a second narrative mode. And that register not infrequently challenges the authoritative voice. Let’s be clear here: to ‘challenge’ is not ‘to subvert.’ What is at issue is dialogue, a critical interrogation of authoritative assertion. We must think of critical ico­nology as an authentic contrapuntal voice, the voice of the text as event, all too often overlooked. This discourse may be recovered by asking the right questions, by asking, for example, what is meant by the tensions and stresses within Romanesque art and literature. If it so happens that the right questions are inspired by an awareness of contemporary literary theory, it does not mean that they thereby “violate” the



historical integrity of the work they are called upon to elucidate, as some might claim. The tension between authoritative word and critical image—be it in verbal or visual texts—is an eminently medieval phenomenon that addresses an equally urgent medieval problem: the paradox of having to use a fallen language, marked by its own fallibility, to know and name the world.35 The imperfect language of humans could not, finally, be truly au­thoritative; as a fallen language, it carried within itself the critical mechanism for selfcontradiction. This mechanism, which we call critical iconology, is nothing more or less than medieval dis­course’s admission that its power to name and to know authoritatively was limited. III. This play of authori­tative word and critical image is not peculiar to Fulbert’s tumulus. As we have seen in the previous chapters, it’s characteristic of a double rhetoric of transcendence and temporality found in many Romanesque texts, both verbal and visual. The authoritative rhetoric of transcendence appropriates and attempts to overcome history; meanwhile a skeptical counter-current checks this movement of transfiguration by invoking social and political forces in the present. Real people with material needs in the here and now do not accommodate themselves so conveniently to parables of salvation. Authoritative language is hierarchical; it valorizes political ideology in subtle ways. How many of us have noticed in the painting, for example, that the figures of Fulbert and Count Odo are equated with the Roman columns supporting the edifice? Having noted that, we might also remark the inclusion of commoners behind the aristocrats. They almost certainly are placed there to offer a realistic representation of the social orders, the different estates sheltered by the embracing interior of Fulbert’s huge cathedral. Just as realistically, may we not see them as representative of the “other language,” Old French, the maternal tongue, spoken by the people, as opposed to Latin, the language of the Father so manifest on the panels of the tumulus? If so, might we not imagine that ordinary language poses a potential challenge to the claims of transcendence held out by the work? After all, Fulbert’s elaborate new church, constructed on a previously unheard of monumental scale (at least for this period), is not only Roman in inspiration, but also Latin. Church Latin, as Auerbach noted, represents sermo humilis, the low style, as opposed to sermo superbus, the high style of Augustan Latin, the language of the Empire. We know that sermo superbus when translated into the medium of architecture, furnished Rome and the Empire with such monumental buildings as the Pantheon (Figure 15), the Arches of Trajan and Constantine (Figure 16 and 17), or the Flavian Amphitheater (Figure 18), to name but a few. In creating his own version



Figure 15: Interior of Pantheon (118-126 C.E.), Rome, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Oil on Canvas, 1732 (Private Collection) of Roman monumental architecture, Fulbert challenges the edifice to speak with two tongues. On the one hand, his cathedral must remain faithful to the register of sermo humilis, the Christian translatio of Augustan Latin. But at the same time, the architectural idiom articulates sermo superbus in its soaring monumentality. This did not necessarily represent a contradiction for Fulbert. He could argue with



Figure 16: Arch of Trajan at Benvenuto, 114 C. E. (Matthew DuBorg, Aquatint 1844) conviction that the sublime humility of the Christian idiom stood out the more boldly when set off by the hallmarks of Roman grandeur. Were it simply a question of the architectural registers, there would be no problem. That is not how the tumulus portrays the new edifice, however. It shows the cathedral receiving Chartrain parishioners as Fulbert and his colleagues perform their pastoral duties. The parishioners may (or more probably did not) comprehend the distinctions of sermo humilis versus sermo superbus. To a large extent, the question is moot. For whatever the language of the church, commoners spoke Old French, and it is in that idiom that they would have voiced their concern when the Church failed to protect them from secular injustice; and it is in the same ordinary language that they would denounce onerous tithes and other material constraints exacted by ecclesiastics. To be sure, the formal language of the tumulus makes no mention of such things. But Fulbert’s correspondence shows him constantly responding to such requests. In the tumulus, the petitioners do not need to speak, however; the critical iconology in the painting represents them and their vernacular petitions in potentio. It suffices to see them in the paintings to understand their interrogatory role. In the final analysis, Romanesque texts dramatize the dilemma of language by superimposing the sublime of authoritative discourse over the commonplace of



Figure 17: Victory Arch of Constantine, Rome, 315 C.E. (19th c. engraving) critical iconology. The transcendent rhetoric of the tumulus deploys the Roman imperial idiom to portray Chartres, Ful­bert, and Count Odo as continuous with the Rome of Augustus and Constantine; the prosaic rhetoric reminds us that the commune of Chartres that built this new, monumental edifice in five short years (1023-28) was an economic and political entity very different from that of either Augustus’s or Constantine’s Rome. This fact suggests that Romanesque expression may be less a matter of style or form than of consciousness of the complex interdependence of social and politi­cal forces acting on and in history. Romanesque must finally be seen as a drama of voices striving for monophonic harmony but discovering polyphony. To ignore the language dynamic in Romanesque texts condemns us to miss entirely the creative tension of this art. That tension mo­tivates counter-currents of critical ideology found in so many works of the period. It turns out that this is neither due to inept imitation of Roman models, nor to the anxiety of Roman influence that Gerville thought he perceived. On the contrary, it is an innovative discourse imitating the complex play of language in the world.



Figure 18: Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum), Rome, 80 C.E. How, then, should we define Romanesque representation? Perhaps by calling it communication that captures the cacophony of competing idiolects of the past and present and molds them into a sinuous form that never quite manages to obtain equilibrium.



Appendix Text of Tumulus Hac die, migravit ad dominum pater noster bonae memoriae Fulbertus, suae tempestatis pontificum decus, praeclara lux mundo a deo data, pauperum sus­ tentator, desolatorum consolator, predonum et latronum refrenator; vir elo­ quentissimus tam in divinis quam in omnium liberalium artium libris, qui ad restaurationem hujus sancti templi, quod ipse post incendium a fundamento reedifica receperat, bonam partem auri sui et argenti reliquit, et disciplinae ac sapientiae radiis hunc locum illuminavit, et clericis suis multa bona fecit. On this day passed to God our Father Fulbert of worthy memory, an orna­ment to the priesthood of his time, an intense light given by God to the world, a supporter of the poor, a consoler of the bereaved, a restrainer of thieves and robbers. A most eloquent man, as much in respect to divine books as to all liberal arts, who pledged himself to the restoration of his sacred temple, entirely rebuilt from the foundations after the fire, he used his own gold and silver and his knowledge and discipline to illuminate this place, and he did many good things for his clerks. Over the Roof of the Cathedral in the Miniature, Folio 34r Pavit oves domini pastor venerabilis annos quinque quater mensesque decem cum mensibus octo The venerable shepherd nourished the sheep of God for four times five years and ten months with eight months.2‡ Signature Titulus, Bottom Register of Folio 33v Ultimus in clero Fulberti nomine Sigo Andreae manibus haec pinxit miciacensis det quibus unica spes mundi requiem paradysi. Sigo, the last of Fulbert’s clergy, had these painted by Andre de Mici. May the one hope of the world give them repose in paradise.

2‡ The cumbersome numbering is typical of Latin poetry, particularly of Ovid, according to Robert Palmer, my former colleague at the University of Pennsylvania .



Figures Figure 1: Leonardo da Vinci, Vitruvian Man (c. 1497) Figure 2: Survey of the Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, 1800 Figure 3: Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, Elevation of Hot Houses as they appeared in 1800 Figure 4: Survey of the Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, 1800, detail showing placement of hothouses. Figure 5: Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, Elevation of Hot Houses as they appeared in 1800, detail showing rectilinear, classical symmetry of buildings Figure 6: Survey of the Botanical Garden, Glasnevin, Dublin Society, 1800, detail showing didactic schema of garden plots Figure 7: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, MS. BnF, Chartres NA 4, fol. 33r, ca. 1028 Figure 8: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, MS. BnF, Chartres NA 4, fol. 33v, ca. 1028 Figure 9: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, MS. BnF, Chartres NA 4, fol. 34r, ca. 1028 Figure 10: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, fol. 33r (reconstruction by Merlet, Chartres, 1893) Figure 11: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, fol. 33v (reconstruction by Merlet, Chartres, 1893) Figure 12: Tumulus of Fulbert of Chartres, fol. 34r (reconstruction by Merlet, Chartres, 1893) Figure 13: Saint Mark Writing his Gospel, Chartres, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 120 (XLIX), fol. 57v (Delaporte 1929: plate 5) Figure 14: Ebbo Gospels, Canon Table, Epernay, Bibliothèque Municipale, Rheims, MS. 1, fol. 13r, ca. 816-835 Figure 15: Interior of Pantheon (118-126 C.E.), Rome, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Oil on Canvas, 1732 (Private Collection) Figure 16: Arch of Trajan at Benvenuto, 114 C. E. (Matthew DuBorg, Aquatint 1844) Figure 17: Victory Arch of Constantine, Rome, 315 C.E. (19th c. engraving) Figure 18: Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum), Rome, 80 C.E.



NOTES Preface 2010 1 See Stephen G. Nichols, “Example versus Historia: Montaigne, Eriugena, and Dante,” in Unruly Examples: On the Rhetoric of Exemplarity, edited by Alexander Gelley (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), 48-85. Observations here from n. 14, p. 338. 2 Peter Dronke, Fabula: Explorations into the Uses of Myth in Medieval Platonism (Leiden und Köln: E. J. Brill, 1974), p. 4. Cited hereafter as “Dronke, Fabula”. 3 Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, Translated by Ray Brassier (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 4. 4 On the meaning of “allegory” as “exemplum” or “teaching,” see Jean Pépin, “Mysteria et Symbola dans le commentaire de Jean Scot sur l’Évangile de saint Jean,” in The Mind of Eriugena: Papers of a Colloquium, edited by John J. O’Maera and Ludwig Bieler (Dublin: Irish University Press, 1973), pp. 17-18. 5 Nichols, “Example versus Historia,” p. 57. 6 Ibid., p. 57. 7 See Dronke, Fabula, Chapter One: “Fabula: Critical Theories,” pp. 13-78. Chapter 1. The Discourse of History 1 Described as a humanist activity, history writing involved: “certain men bringing their curiosity and talent to bear on humanity itself. In their view, the works and deeds of humanity, under the providence of God—the God of the Bible…comprised a ‘universe’ other than the physical one: the human universe of sacred history…. [T] hey were working out a theology that was firmly tied to the teaching of scrip­ture— scripture whose historia was at the basis of clerical education.” M. D. Chenu, Nature, Man, and Society in the Twelfth Century: Essays on New Theological Per­spectives in the Latin West, ed. and trans. Jerome E. Taylor and Lester K. Little (Chi­cago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 163. 2 Ibid., p. 177. 3 Richer, Histoire de France (888-995), ed. Robert Latouche, 2 vols. (Paris: Champion, 1930-37), vol. 1, p. vii. 4 “Gallorum congressibus in volumine regerendis imperii tui, pater sanctissime Ger­ bert, auctoritas seminarium dedit.” Ibid., “Prologus,” p. 2. “Orbis itaque plaga, quae mortalibus sese commodam praebet, a cosmographis trifariam dividi perhibetur, in Asiam videlicet, African et Europam…. usque ad terrae umbilicum… “ 1. 2. 5 Ibid., 1. 1: “Quarum singulae cum proprias habeant distribuciones, Europae tamen partem unam quae Gallia a candore vocatur, eo quod candidioris speciei insigne eius oriundi praeferant, in suas diducere partes ratum duxi”; 1. 2: “Gallia ergo et ipsa in tria distincta est: in Belgicam, Celticam, Aquitanicam.” 6 Ibid., 1. 3: “Omnium ergo Galliarum populi innata audatia plurimum efferuntur, calumniarum impatientes. Si incitantur, cedibus exultant efferatique inclementius adoriuntur. Semel persuasum ac rationibus approbatum, vix refellere consuerunt.”



7 Ibid.: “Unde et Hieronimus: Sola, inquit, Gallia monstra non habuit, sed viris pru­ dentibus et eloquentissimus semper claruit.” 8 Chenu, Nature, Man, and Society, p. 175. 9 I. P. Sheldon-Williams, “The Greek Christian Platonist Tradition from the Cappado­ cians to Maximus and Eriugena,” in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, ed. A. H. Armstrong (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), p. 444 (hereafter cited as Sheldon-Williams, CHLGEMP). 10 Ibid., p. 446. 11 Richer, 1. 3: “Hos omnes populos, et si natura feroces, ab antiquo fere per omnia prospere egisse, et cum pagani essent, historiae tradunt. Post vero, a sancto Remigio baptizati, adprime clara semper et illustri victoria emicuisse feruntur. Quorum quo­ que primus rex christianus Clodoveus fuisse traditur. A quo per succedentia tempora imperatoribus egregiis res publica gubernata fuisse dinoscitur usque ad Karolum, a quo historiae sumemus initium.” 12 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa’s doctrine of man as having originally been created in the image and likeness of God so that he might in the Image, as in a mirror, see and know the transcendent God, other­ wise invisible and unknowable, and so conform himself to him. Man was then created a second time as corporeality in the sensible world. He is still in the image of God…but now his nature reflects not only what is above, but what is be­low…. Plurality and composition come with corporeality, which was no part of the original image but “comes from outside.” …The purpose of the second crea­tion was to provide man with a means of knowing God in his immanence when the Fall, by obscuring the Image, should have concealed the knowledge of him in his transcendence. (Sheldon-Williams, CHLGEMP, p. 450) 13 “Ac totius exordium narrationis aggrediar, breviter facta orbis divisione Galliaque in partes distributa, eo quod eius populorum mores et actus describere propositum sit.” Richer, “Prologus,” p. 4. 14 By Romanesque, I mean the period of cultural and historical development beginning around the year 1000 and running until the middle to late twelfth century. The term was originally coined in the early nineteenth century to denote a particular architec­ tural and sculptural style preceding the Gothic. Since then, Romanesque has been generalized to denote a period concept. It designates a form of expression, found in literature and art, very much preoccupied with the symbolic telling of stories with a historical basis.See William Gunn, An Inquiry into the Origin and Influence of Gothic Architec­ture (London: Longman’s, 1819), pp. 6, 80, n. 7; M. F. Gidon, “L’invention de l’expres­sion Architecture Romane par Gerville (1818),” Bulletin de la Societe des anti­ quaires de Normandie 42 (1934): 268-88; Paul Frankl, The Gothic: Literary Sources and Interpretations through Eight Centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), pp. 507-08. See also S. G. Nichols, “Romanesque Imitation or Imitating the Romans?” in Mimesis from Mirror to Method: Augustine to Descartes, ed. John D. Lyons and S. G. Nichols (Aurora: The Davies Group, Publishers, 2004). 15 “Si qua vero aliorum efferantur, ob incidentes rationes quae vitari non potuerunt id evenisse putetur.” “Prologus,” p. 4



16 “Les caractéristiques de la période romane peuvent se ramener a deux principales: l’unité et le sens de la presence de Dieu. Ces deux notions sont lieés au christianisme dont l’extension en Europe forme la chrétienté…. Plus une pensée—signifiée par l’ecriture ou la parole—est d’origine spirituelle, plus elle est a la fois universelle et encyclopedique, échappant ainsi au temps et a l’espace.” M.-M. Davy, Initiation a la symbolique romane (Paris: Flammarion, 1977), p. 35. 17 “Le genie medieval est a base monastique. Or l’idéal monastique est a la fois absolu et total, c’est-à-dire qu’il embrasse toutes les réalités indépendamment de leur ori­g ine.” Ibid., p. 35. 18 Richer, 3. 43: “ab ipsa Divinitate directus est Gerbertus, magni ingenii ac miri elo­ quii vir, quo postmodum tota Gallia acsi lucerna ardente vibrabunda refulsit.” 19 Richer, 3. 45. Through the efforts of his brilliant pupil Fulbert of Chartres, Gerbert also contributed, albeit indirectly, to the prestige of Chartres as a great center of learning in the eleventh century. 20 Thus, from Aachen he writes to Gerbert in Rheims, inviting Gerbert to become his teacher: We desire you to show your aversion to Saxon ignorance by not refusing this sug­gestion of our wishes, but even more we desire you to stimulate Our Greek Subtlety to zeal for study, because if there is anyone who will arouse it, he will find some shred of the diligence of the Greeks in it. Thanks to this, we humbly ask that the flame of your knowledge may sufficiently fan our spirit until, with God’s aid, you cause the lively genius of the Greeks to shine forth. And Gerbert answers in part: Our august emperor of the Romans art thou, Caesar, who, sprung from the noblest blood of the Greeks, surpass the Greeks in empire and govern the Romans by hereditary right, but both you surpass in genius and eloquence. (The Letters of Gerbert with his Papal Privileges as Sylvester II, trans. and with an introduction by Harriet Pratt Lattin [New York: Columbia University Press, 1961], letters 230, p. 295, and 232, p. 297) 21 For an extremely lucid demonstration of the role of symbolic forms in Romanesque art, see Davy, Initiation a la symbolique romane, chap. 2 and particularly chap. 3. 22 In bk. 3, chaps. 46-47, Richer lists some of the authors taught by Gerbert. Greek works occupy an important place in his curriculum. 23 Sheldon-Williams, CHLGEMP, p. 463. 24 “Justissima studiosorum fratrum querimonia, interdumque propria saepius permo­ tus, cur diebus nostri temporis non quispiam existeret, qui futuris post nos multipli­ cia haec quae videntur fieri tam in Ecclesiis Dei, quam in plebibus, minime abdenda qualicunque styli pernototione mandaret: praesertim cum, Salvatore teste, usque in ultimam extremi diei horam, sancto Spiritu cooperante, ipsa facturus sit in mundo nova cum Patre.” Rodulfi Glabri, Historiarum Sui Temporis, Libri Quinque. J.-P. Migne, Patrologia Latina (Paris, 1853), 142. 612D–613A (hereafter cited as Migne, PL). 25 Yves Christe, Les grands portails romans: Etudes sur l’iconologie des théophanies



romanes (Geneva: Droz, 1969), p. 132. See pp. 51–56, 132–33, 159, 161, 170–74, 177­ 85 for a commentary on the relationship of Eriugena, Cluny, and Rodolphus Glaber. M. F. Hearn observes: The Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite had been introduced into the West only in the ninth century, most importantly through the Latin trans­lation and commentary written by John Scott Eriugena (815?-877?), the great scholar of the court of Charles the Bald. A copy of Eriugena’s treatise had been given to the library of Cluny in the tenth century by Abbot Mayeul, who is recorded as having spent many nights passionately reading it. In the early eleventh century Raoul Glaber, in his Historia sui temporis, attested to continued interest in this treatise at Cluny as well as others related to it—the Ambigua of Maximus the Confessor and the writings of the Cappadocean fathers, all of which had been absorbed by Eriugena in his major treatise, De Divisione Naturae. (Romanesque Sculpture: The Revival of Monumental Stone Sculpture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981], p. 187) 26 John Marenbon, From the Circle of Alcuin to the School of Auxerre: Logic, Theology and Philosophy in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), chaps. 3, 4. 27 Eriugena, Omelia Iohannis Scoti Translatoris Ierarchiae Dionisii, chap. 14: “Fuit homo missus a deo, cui nomen Brat Iohannes. Ecce aquilam de sublimissimo vertice montis theologiae leni volatu descendentem in profundissimam vallem historiae, de caelo in terram spiritualis mundi pennas altissimae contemplationis relaxantem.” Homélie sur le prologue de jean, trans. and ed. Edouard Jeauneau (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1969), pp. 268, 270. 28 Cf. St. Gregory of Nazianzen: “The language of Scripture does not reveal the truth directly, but a half-concealed version of it. This is because the sensible world from which it draws its illustrations is an imperfect copy of the intelligible: it displays shadows, and the intelligible world images, of the sole reality, which is God. Simi­larly, the Old Testament displays shadows, the New images, of the ultimate Truth who is the incomprehensible God.” Sheldon-Williams, CHLGEMP, p. 439. 29 Historiae, “Praefatio,” primitus duntaxat ostensurus, quanquam salus annorum a mundi origine pernotata secundum Hebraeorum historias a Septuaginta interpretum translatione dis­crepet. Illud tamen certissime commendamus, quod annus incarnati Verbi mille­simus secundus ipse sit regni Henrici Saxonum regis primus. Isdem quoque annus Domini millesimus fuit regni Rotherti Francorum regis tertius decimus. Isti igitur duo in nostro citra marino orbe tunc Christianissimi atque praemaximi habeban­tur. Quorum primus, videlicet Henricus, Romanum postmodum sumpsit imperium. Idcirco vero illorum memoriale seriei temporum stabilivimus. (Migne, PL 142. 614A) 30 “Historia designated the contents and accordingly the manner of thinking of a whole religious structure. The religion of Christ was not based on logic but on a series of facts arranged in a history, a history that one must read—in the technical sense of



the medieval lectio—according to an appropriate method… “ Chenu, Nature, Man, and Society, pp. 165–66. 31 Ibid., p. 185. He continues: “the one essential part adhered to by this theology was the destiny—the predestination—of the Roman Empire…. [A]ll agreed on placing the Roman Empire at the end of a succession of ancient empires as a providential preparation for the age of Christ, in the course of history as well as in the geography of salvation…. The crucial role of this destiny was the role which the empire played in unifying mankind, rendering all men open to the workings of grace.” 32 On Eriugena’s sources, see Jean Scot Commentaire sur 1’Evangile de Jean, trans. and ed. Edouard Jeauneau (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1972), p. 100, nn. 2–3. 33 Historiae, 1. 1: “Multiplicibus figuris formisque Deus conditor universorum distin­g uens ea quae fecit, ut per ea quae vident oculi, vel intelligit animus, sublevaret hominem eruditum ad simplicem Deitatis intuitum. In his ergo perscrutandis per­ noscendisque primitus claruere Patres Graecorum Catholici mediocriter philoso­phi.” Migne, PL 142. 613C. 34 Historiae, 1. 1; Migne, PL 142. 613C–614D. 35 I. P. Sheldon-Williams, “Eriugena’s Greek Sources,” in The Mind of Eriugena, ed. John J. O’Meara and Ludwig Bieler (Dublin: Irish University Press, 1973), p. 12. 36 Historiae, 1. 1: “Ab his igitur evidentissimis complexibus rerum patenter et pul­ cherrime silenterque praedicatur Deus, quoniam dum stabili motu in sese vicissim una portendit alteram, suum principale primordium praedicando, a quo processe­runt, expetunt, ut in illo iterum quiescant.” Migne, PL 142. 615A–B. 37 “…cum uero a uerbo [theo Theos] deducitur currens recte intelligitur; ipse enim in omnia currit et nullo modo stat sed omnia currendo implet, sicut scriptum est: ‘Velociter currit sermo eius.’ Attamen nullo modo mouetur. De deo siquidem ueris­ sime dicitur motus stabilis et status mobilis. Stat enim in se ipso incommutabiliter nunquam naturalem suam stabilitatem deserens, mouet autem se ipsum per omnia ut sint ea quae a se essentialiter subsistunt. Motu enim ipsius omnia fiunt.” Periphy­seon (De Divisione Naturae), Liber Primus, ed. I. P. Sheldon-Williams (Dublin: In­stitute for Advanced Studies, 1978), pp. 60–61 [ = Migne, PL 122. 452C–D]. 38 Historiae, 1. 1: Migne, PL 142. 615A. 39 Rudolf Allers, “Microcosmos from Anaximandros to Paracelsus,” Traditio 2 (1944): 319–407. 40 This exposition follows closely Allers’s article, p. 323. 41 Ibid. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid., p. 324. 44 “Rationes omnium rerum dum in ipsa natura uerbi quae superessentialis est intelli­ guntur aeternas esse arbitror. Quicquid enim in deo uerbo substantialiter est quoniam non aliud praeter ipsum uerbum est aeternum esse necesse est ac per hoc conficitur et ipsum uerbum et multiplicem totius uniuersitatis conditae principalissimamque rationem id ipsum esse. Possumus etiam sic dicere: Simplex et multiplex rerum omnium principalissima ratio deus uerbum est. Nam a Grecis logos uocatur, hoc est uerbum uel ratio uel causa.” Periphyseon (De Divisione Naturae), Liber Tertius, ed. I. P. SheldonWilliams (Dublin: Institute for Advanced Studies, 1981), pp. 78-79 [ = Migne, PL



122. 642A]. 45 Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in his Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (London: Tavistock, 1966), p. 3. Chapter 2. Historia and Theosis 1 Matt. 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36. 2 Inn spiritualis uisionis montem hoc est altitudinem….” De Divisione Naturae, 3. 13, ed. I. P. Sheldon-Williams (Dublin: Institute for Advanced Studies, 1981), p. 124 (variant). Migne, PL 122. 662A. Translation from Periphyseon, On the Division of Nature, ed. and trans. Myra L. Uhlfelder (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1976), p. 176 (hereafter cited as Uhlfelder). 3 Yves Christe, Les grands portails romans: Etudes sur l’iconologie des théophanies romanes (Geneva: Droz, 1969), p. 170. 4 1 Ambigua 6. 31. Quoted by Sheldon-Williams, CHLGEMP, p. 430. 5 This passage is generally read as a two-dimensional metaphor without reference to the scriptural and patristic subtexts which impart three-dimensional depth to it, thereby increasing its significance. Rodulfi Glabri, Cluniacensis Monachi, Histori­ arum sui Temporis Libri Quinque, bk. 3, chap. 4: Igitur infra supradictum millesimum tertio jam fere imminente anno, contigit in universo pene terrarum orbe, praecipue tamen in Italia, et in Galliis, innovari ec­clesiarum basilicas, licet pleraeque decenter locatae minime indignuissent. Ae­ mulabatur tamen quaeque gens Christicolarum adversus alteram decentiore frui. Erat enim instar ac si mundus ipse excutiendo semet, rejecta vetustate, passim candidam ecclesiarum vestem indueret. Tunc denique episcopalium sedium eccle­ sias pale universas, ac caetera quaeque diversorum sanctorum monasteria, seu minora villarum oratoria, in meliora quique permutavere fideles. (Migne, PL 142. 651CD; trans. based on Edmond Pognon, L’An mile [Paris: Gallimard, 1947), p. 89) 6 Historiae, 2. 5, “De portento Aurelianae urbis mirabili.” Migne, PL 142. 643A–635C; Pognon, L’An mille, pp. 68–69. 7 De Divisione Naturae, 1. 9. Sheldon-Williams, vol. 1, pp. 52–54; Migne, PL 122. 449A–D; Uhlfelder, p. 11. 8 De Divisione Naturae, 1. 10: “Cum uero solare lumen aeri misceatur tunc incipit apparere ita ut in se ipso sensibus sit incomprehensibilis, mixtum uero aeri sensibus possit comprehendi.” Ac per hoc intellige, diuinam essentiam per se incomprehensibilem esse, adi­unctam uero intellectuali creaturae mirabili modo apparere ita ut ipsa, diuina dico essentia, sola in ea, creatura intellectuali uidelicet, appareat…. Per corpora ergo in corporibus, non per se ipsum, uidebitur. Similiter per intellectum in intellecti­bus, per rationem in rationibus, non per se ipsum, diuina essentia apparebit. (Shel­don-Williams, vol. 1, pp. 54, 56; Migne, PL 122. 450AB, C; Uhlfelder, p. 12) 9 De Divisione Naturae, 1. 9: “Nam huic rationi conuenit quod idem Maximus ait quia Quodcunque intellectus comprehendere potuerit, id ipsum fit. In quantum ergo animus



uirtutem comprehendit, in tantum ipse uirtus fit.” Sheldon-Williams, vol. 1, p. 54; Migne, PL 122. 449D–450A; Uhlfelder, p. 11. 10 Historiae, 1. 1: “seu etiam qui rerum eventusque vel plura contigerunt memoranda tam in sacris Ecclesiis, quam in utroque populo primitus ad illud totius quondam orbis imperium principale, scilicet Romanum, convertimus stylum.” Migne, PL 142. 616A. 11 Rodolphus offers an interesting testimony to the extent to which the fates of Orleans and Jerusalem were considered to be interrelated in the Histories. Book 3, chapter 7 recounts the destruction of the Anastasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusa­lem by a Saracen caliph in 1018, and its subsequent rebuilding at the instigation of the Saracen’s mother, a secret Christian convert named Mary(!). The inspiration for the destruction of the Anastasis, he says, did not originate with the Saracen chief, but rather with the Jews in Orleans! They sent a letter “in Hebrew writing” to the Saracen leader urging him to destroy the Christian holy place. Once the plot had been carried out, the cause was discovered: the messenger who carried the letter to the Saracen confessed, and retribution was exacted from the Jewish community in Orleans. Only after the punishment of the alleged conspirators in Orleans can the happy ending occur in Jerusalem. This symbolic connection between the fate of Je­rusalem and Orleans receives further support, as we shall see later, in book 3, chapter 8. 12 On the two Jerusalems, see Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), pp. 83–85. 13 “Once the Emperor [i.e., Constantine] had written this letter, the work began to take shape, and over the true memorial of salvation was built the New Jerusalem, facing the far-famed Jerusalem of old time….” #33: “A New Jerusalem.” Translated from Eusebius’s Vita Constantini by John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels (London: SPCK, 1970), p. 167. 14 For a more comprehensive elaboration of this equation, see my article: “The Inter­ action of Life and Literature in the “Peregrinationes ad Loca Sancta and the Chansons de Geste,” Speculum 44 (1969): 51–77. 15 Rome, too, possessed an analogous spiritual and political valence which could, by translatio and renovatio, be manifested elsewhere. First Constantinople, then Aixla-Chapelle claimed status as a second Rome. In Charlemagne’s capital, the claim assumed literal and physical dimension by the emperor’s building program. Aside from copying the Lateran palace, Charlemagne incorporated pieces of the Italian building brought from Italy into the reconstruction. 16 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 84. 17 Text and translation from The Penguin Book of Latin Verse, ed. Frederick Brittain (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1962), pp. 127–28. 18 From the Vita Constantini, trans. Wilkinson, pp. 164, 166, 167. 19 Urbs beata Jerusalem, stanza 6: “Omnis illa Deo sacra et dilecta civitas / Plena modulis in laude et canore jubilo / Trinum Deum unicumque cum favore praedicat.” Brittain, Latin Verse, p. 128. Although Divine Nature is designated by many names—e.g., Goodness, Essence, Truth, and others of the kind—Divine Scripture most often uses the name God…. The etymology of this name is from the Greek, either from the verb theoro, “see,”



or from the verb theo, “run”; or, as is more likely, since one and the same meaning is inherent, it is correctly said to be derived from both. For when Theos is derived from theoro, it means “Seer,” because He sees in Himself everything endowed with being; whereas He beholds nothing outside Himself since there is nothing outside Himself. (Sheldon-Williams, vol. 1, p. 60; Migne, PL 122. 452BD; Uhl­felder, p. 14) 22 Homily on the Prologue to John: The light of divine knowledge [cognitio] retired from the world when man de­viated from God’s commandments [in the Fall]. Therefore it is in a double manner that the eternal light (i.e., Christ-as-Word] announces itself to the world; through Scripture and through created things. For divine knowledge can only be renewed in us by letters of Scripture and by the image of created things. Study the words of Scripture and, in your soul, understand the meaning: by this you will know the Word. With your bodily senses, observe the forms and beauty of tangible things; in them you will apprehend the Word of God [my italics]. (Homélie sur le prologue de Jean, ed. and trans. Edouard Jeauneau [Les Editions du Cerf: Paris, 1969], pp. 254-57) 23 Saint Evurtius’s feast day is celebrated September 7. Thought to be a fourth-century bishop of Orleans, little is known about him for certain now. Such was not the case in the eleventh century, nor in the twelfth, when the author of the Guide du Merin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle wrote the following account, which shows an aspect of the legend that illustrates even more strikingly the theosis of this saint: Revenant en arrière, nous engagerons ceux qui vont a Saint-Jacques par la route de Tours, a aller voir a Orleans le bois de la Croix et le calice de saint Euverte, évêque et confesseur; dans l’église Saint-Croix. Un jour que saint Euverte disait la messe, la main de Dieu apparut au-dessus de l’autel, en lair, sous une apparence humaine [“ apparuit super altare in altum dominica dextera humanitus videntibus illis qui aderant”] aux yeux des assistants, et tout que le pontife faisait a l’autel, la main divine le faisait également; quand it traçait sur le pain et le calice le signe de la croix, la main le traçait de même quand it élevait le pain et le calice, la main divine élevait egalement un vrai pain et un calice. Le saint sacrifice terminé, la très sainte main du Sauveur disparut. D’après cela nous devons comprendre que tandis que chaque prêtre chante la messe, le Christ le chante lui-même. (ed. and trans. Jeanne Vielliard [Macon: Protat Freres, 1969], pp. 58, 59) 24 Nichols, “The Interaction of Life and Literature,” p. 77, n. 14. 25 Jerzy Pelc, “Semiotic Functions as Applied to the Analysis of the Concept of Meta­phor,” in his Studies in Functional Logical Semiotics of Natural Languages (The Hague: Mouton, 1971). Hoyt Alverson extends Pelc’s concept of metaphor to include the intentionality of the propounder of a metaphor in Mind in the Heart of Darkness: Value and Self-Identity among the Tswana of Southern Africa (New Haven and Lon­ don: Yale University Press, 1978), pp. 198-200. 26 Historiae, 2. 12: “Hisque daemonum fallaciis epravatus, coepit multa turgide docere fidei sacrae contraria, dictaque poetarum per omnia credenda esse asserebat.” Migne, PL 142. 644B.



27 Ibid. “Quod presagium Joannis prophetiae congruit; quia dixit Satanam solvendum, expletis mille annis, de quibus in tertio jam libello prolixias tractabimus.” Migne, PL 142. 644C. 28 Meyer Schapiro, “Two Romanesque Drawings in Auxerre and Some Iconographic Problems,” in his Romanesque Art (New York: Braziller, 1977), p. 308. 29 Ibid. 30 Eriugena, Homélie, ed. Jeauneau, sec. 1, 11. 1 and 16-18, pp. 200, 206. 31 Ibid., sec. 18, 11. 15-19, pp. 288, 290. 32 Historiae, 3. 1: “Claruere tamen ab eodem anno, tam in Italia quam in Galliis, utro­ rumque ordinum viri, quorum vita et operatio queunt posteris imitabilia informare exempla.” Migne, PL 142. 645A. 33 De Divisione Naturae, 3. 3: Sapientia nanque proprie dicitur uirtus illa qua contemplatiuus animus, siue humanus siue angelicus diuina aeterna et incommutabilia considerat, siue circa primam omnium causam uersetur, siue circa primordiales rerum causas, quas Pater in uerbo suo semel simulque condidit, quae species rationis a sapientibus theolo­ gia uocitatur. Scientia uero est uirtus, qua theoreticus animus, siue humanus, siue angelicus, de natura rerum, ex primordialibus causis procedentium per generati­ onem inque genera ac species diuisarum per differentias et proprietates tractat, siue accidentibus succumbat siue eis caret, siue corporibus adiuncta siue penitus ab eis libera, siue locis et temporibus distributa siue ultra loca et tempora sui simplicitate unita atque inseparabilis, quae species rationis Physica dicitur. (Shel­ don-Williams, vol. 3, pp. 48, 50; Migne, PL 122. 629AB) 34 De Divisione Naturae, 5. 38. Migne, PL 122. 1011AB; Uhlfelder, p. 346. 35 De Divisione Naturae, 5. 38: “non solo naturaliter insito appetitu, sed etiam reipsa et experimento ad sola naturalia humanitatis bona, quae in Christo subsistunt, as­ cendent….” Migne, PL 122. 1012A; Uhlfelder, p. 347. 36 De Divisione Naturae, 5. 38: “Non enim ait Scriptura: Faciamus hominem imagi­ nem et similitudinem nostram, sed ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram. Ac si plane diceretur: Ad hoc faciamus hominem, ut, si praeceptum nostrum custodierit, imago nostra et similitudo fiat. Non ergo sapiens factus est, sed capax, si vellet, sapientiae.” Migne, PL 122. 1013CD; Uhlfelder, p. 349. 37 Meyer Schapiro, “The Romanesque Sculpture of Moissac II,” in Romanesque Art (New York: Braziller, 1977), p. 240. 38 Ibid., p. 237. 39 Ibid., pp. 110, 241. 40 R. I. Moore, The Origins of European Dissent (London: Allen Lane, 1977), pp. 25, 250-52. Emile Amann and Auguste Dumas, L’Eglise au pouvoir des laïques (888­-1057), vol. 7, Histoire de l’Eglise, ed. Augustin Fliche and Victor Martin (Paris: Bloud et Gay, 1948): [à cause de] la profonde horreur qu’inspirait l’hérésie manichéenne, la répression en fut terrible. Jusqu’alors les hérétiques, justiciables seulement de la contrainte ecclésiastique, n’avaient été frappés que d’une peine canonique. Rompant avec une



tradition presque millénaire, les princes séculiers jugèrent utile de faire périr par le feu les hérétiques condamnés par l’Eglise. C’est le roi de France, Robert le Pieux, qui, le premier, entra dans cette voie. (p. 462) 41 Moore, European Dissent, pp. 250-52, provides background indicative of the un­ usual role played by Robert. The Gesta Synodi Aurelianensis agrees with Rodol­phus’s account by and large, but places less emphasis on the king’s role: Bouquet, Recueil des historians de Gaule et de la France, vol. 10, pp. 536–39. 42 The Gesta gives the names of the two clerks as Stephen and Lisois. Further expla­ nation for the gravity of the betrayal derives from the assertion that Stephen had been the personal confessor of Queen Constance. She is reported to have translated the symbolic blindness of this cleric in physical terms by striking out his eye with a stick as he left the church were they had been tried. (Moore, European Dissent, p. 29) Adémar de Chabannes, who recounts the heresy in book 3, chapter 59, of his Chronicon (c. 1028), underlines the connection between heresy and Revelation when he terms the Orléannais heretics “messengers of Antichrist” (nuntii Antichristi). Chronique, ed. Jules Chavanon (Paris: Picard, 1897), pp. 184-85. 43 Historiae, 3. 8: “Si qui vero postmodum hujus perversitatis sectatores fuerunt re­ perti, simili ultionis vindicta ubique fuerunt perditi. Praeterea venerabilis catholicae fidei cultus, exstirpata insanientium pessimorum vesania, ubique terrarum clarior emicuit.” Migne, PL 142. 664A. 44 La fin du xe siècle vità…renaître le manichéisme, qui, dans les siècles suivants, devait donner à l’Eglise de graves soucis. On ne sait trop comment parurent dans l’Europe occidentale des doctrines qui autrefois avaient été le propre de l’Orient ete qui depuis longtemps semblaient tombées en sommeil. Une hypothèse vraisem­blable soutient qu’elles ont pris une vie nouvelle dans les écoles où l’on s’exerçait à la dialectique: quelques maîtres, en étudiant les théories des anciens hérésiarques, finirent par s’y prendre; ils s’en pénétrèrent et les transformèrent en se les appropriant. Parmi leurs auditeurs, ils firent des disciples qui les répandirent dans les masses populaires. (Amann and Dumas, L’Eglise au pouvoir des laïques, p. 459) Adémar de Chabannes, 3. 59, refers to the heretics as Manichaeans, but, as Moore points out, most modern commentators assume they were Bogomils or Cathars (European Dissent, pp. 26, 30, 294, n. 6). 45 Historiae, 2. 11: “Et, sicut haereses caeterae, ut cautius decipiant, Scripturis se di­ vinis, quibus etiam contrariae sunt, palliant.” Migne, PL 142. 643C. 46 Confessions, 10. 3, trans. John K. Ryan (New York: Doubleday, 1960), p. 230. 47 The Jerusalem Bible, Alexander Jones, ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1968), p. 320. 48 It is interesting to see how the three stages of humankind described by Gregory of Nazianzen and Pseudo-Dionysius constitute the dialectic of the historia here. Al­ though the stages from Pagan to Jew to Christian were seen as perfective and histor­ ical, they also corresponded to stages in the evolution of human consciousness. Re­ cidivism might therefore be anticipated as well as hostility toward the more perfect on the part of those still in less “advanced” stages. Jews, being closer to the “Truth,” could be expected to view Christianity, the third stage, as a greater threat than would



the “Saracens,” who remained in the first stage—somewhat anachronistically. See Sheldon-Williams, CHLGEMP, pp. 445-46. 49 The Scriptures are supplemented by the oral tradition, which depends for its survival upon the fidelity of the disciple to his master. Orthodoxy is related to heresy as health to disease, and indisposition incurred when the Divine Logos, i.e., theo­logia, is displaced by the human logos, i.e., reason uncontrolled by faith. The vehicle of the Tradition, both written and unwritten, is the Church, which is both the agent and the witness of the diffusion of enlightenment through the world. (Sheldon-Williams, “St. Gregory Nazianzen,” CHLGEMP, p. 439) 50 M. F. Hearn, Romanesque Sculpture, has analyzed the tympanum of Beaulieu Abbey, as from the perspective of an antiheretical iconographic program which “reflects the concern of the abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable, about a group of heretics who were related in beliefs to the Albigensians” (pp. 186, 179-80). Yves Christe, Les grands portails romans, p. 132 (also in the chapter “La Transfiguration,” pp. 96-104), and Hearn, pp. 187-89, have pointed out the indebtedness of Peter the Venerable to Eri­ugena and through him to Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Na­zianzen. A fine book by another art historian, Linda Seidel, appeared while my own work was in production: Songs of Glory: The Romanesque Façades of Aquitaine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981). While not specifically concerned with identifying the philosophical bases of the façades she treats, Seidel does make a per­ suasive case for linking the narrative and moral concepts of the monumental art works to their counterparts in chronicles and chansons of the period. She, too, notes the consonance of narrative techniques in the different media. 51 De Divisione Naturae, 5. 26. Migne, PL 122. 916D–917C. See also Christe, Les grands portails romans, pp. 56-57. Summary quoted from Uhlfelder, p. 316. Christe makes a clear correlation between the Moissac tympanum and Cluniac writing, particularly that of Rodolphus Glaber: C’est cependant dans le domaine des formes et des images que la spinitualité clu­ nisienne s’est exprimée le plus intensément. Comme j’essaierai de le montrer…le Christ des tympans de Moissac et de Charlieu est à la fois la source et le point de convergence du mouvement des évangélistes qui, autour de la mandorle, se cambrent et brusquement se figent dans une adoration qui les aveugle. Sans en référer à Jean Scot qui dans les Ambigua et le livre V du De divisions avait décrit cette “reversio” de la manière la plus éclatante, on trouve évidemment dans les écrits clunisiens, et en particulier chez Raoul Glaber, des images analogues que les sculpteurs pouvaient en outre traduire par la seul force de leur génie. Le “style” de traitement de l’espace et de la figure adoptés coup sur coup à Moissac, a Char-lieu et a Angoulême présentent cependant des points de rencontre trop évidents avec le texte érigénien pour que de telles analogies soient simplement for­tuites…. (p. 133) 52 De Divisione Naturae, 5. 26. Migne, PL 122. 919A—C. Summarized in Uhlfelder: All rational beings, even sinful ones, seek God, the highest Good, for all seek their cause. They never desire evil, but since they are often mistaken and deceived, they take the wrong path to their goal. When the perverse motions of the irrational



soul are corrected, it is moved to seek its cause and to enter into paradise. Because the ultimate object of desire and longing is unattainable by any creature, the longing and motion are eternal. The soul forever seeks and in a marvelous way finds what it seeks; it does not find what it cannot find. That is, the soul finds God through theophanies, but God as He is in Himself, it cannot find, for He is beyond the contemplation of any creature. (p. 371) 53 The technique of composition based upon a contrast of symmetry and asymmetry whereby two narrative elements are set off by showing them to be discoordinate with one another has been commented on by Meyer Schapiro. For him, the technique constitutes a characteristic feature of Romanesque sculptural composition which he terms “discoordination.” “By discoordination, I mean a grouping or division such that corresponding sets of elements include parts, relations, or properties which ne­gate that correspondence….” “The Sculpture of Souillac,” Romanesque Art, p. 104. 54 Historiae, 3. 8: “Primitus tamen fideles hortamur universos ut interim mentes illo­ rum praesagium serenet Apostoli, qui praevidens in futuram hujusmodi cautelam intulit. Oportet, inquit, haereses esse, ut ii qui ex fide stint probentur.” Migne, PL 142. 660D. 55 Rodolphus does not specifically say that the council took place in the cathedral at Orleans, but the Acts of the Council of Arras, held in 1025, to try heretics, graphi­ cally describes the use of the church for such trials: “Tertia vero die, quae Dominica habebatur, Segmentatus episcopus cum suis archidiaconis, paratis crucibus et textus evangelicis, circumfusa totius cleri ac populi multitudine, synodum celebraturus in ecclesia Beatae Mariae progreditur, impositaque antiphona Exsurgat Deus, totum psalmi hujus cursum expleverunt.” Acta synodi Atrebatensis in Manichaeos. Migne, PL 142. 1271BC. We shall return to this text at the end of the chapter. 56 Historiae, 3. 7: “Hoc enim diu est quod sectam, quam vos jam tarde agnoscitis, am­plectimur, sed tam vos quam caeteros cujuscunque legis vel ordinis in eam cadere exspectavimus; quod etiam adhuc fore credimus.” Migne, PL 142. 660B. 57 Ibid.: “In hoc igitur permaxime istorum insipientia deprehenditur, atque ipsi omni scientia ac sapientia vacui pernoscuntur, cum negent creaturarum auctorem uni­ versarum, scilicet Deum.” Migne, PL 142. 660D. 58 Ibid. Migne, PL 142. 661AB. 59 Ibid.: “Si qua vero res procaciter ab eo deviando in deterius cecidit, caeteris jure manentibus documentum preabuit.” Migne, PL 142. 661B. 60 Ibid.: “Soli etiam homini datum est, prae caeteris animantibus fore sese beatius, quoniam quidem et illum duntaxat, si caruerit, omnibus fieri devenire miserius. Quem videlicet conditionis ordinem caute ab initio providers omnipotentis bonitas Con­ ditoris, cernensque saepius eumdem videlicet hominem deserendo supera, involvi nimium infimis, fecit proinde plura identidem pro tempore ad eruditionem illius gratia erectionis prodigia.” Migne, PL 142. 661C. 61 Ibid. Migne, PL 142. 662B–D. Also “Sed cum ipse Omnipotens in quodam creatura­rum medio, videlicet in homine, suam expressisset imaginem…. Ad cujus potiorem etiam reformationem idem Conditor personam filii suae Deitatis misit in mundum, sui praeformatam sumere imaginem” (col. 663A).



62 Ibid. Migne, PL 142. 663BC. 63 Acta synodi Atrebatensis in Manichaeos, chapter 14. De imagine Salvatoris in cruce. Est vero alia hujus ratio: simpliciores quippe in ecclesia et illiterati, quod per Scripturas non possunt intueri, hoc per quaedam picturae liniamenta contemplan­ tur, id est, Christum in ea humilitate, qua pro nobis pati et mori voluit. Dum hanc speciem venerantur, Christum in cruce ascendentem, Christum in cruce passum, in cruce morientem, Christum solum, non opus manuum hominum adorant. Non enim truncus ligneus adoratur, sed per illam visibilem imaginem mens interior hominis excitatur, in qua Christi passio et mors pro nobis suscepta tanquam in membrana cordis inscribitur, ut in se unusquisque recognoscat quanta suo Re­demptori debeat; dum videlicet juxta Salvatoris sententiam, quae postulat imago Caesaris, reddantur Caesari, et quae Dei, Deo. (Migne, PL 142. 1306BC) 64 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 65. 65 Ibid. 66 Figure 4, catalogue number 25; Ernst G. Grimme, Der Aachener Domschatz, vol. 42, Aachener Kunstblätter, 2d. ed., ed. Peter Ludwin (Dusseldorf: Schwann, 1973). 67 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 67. 68 “Diuina siquidem scriptura mundus quidam est intelligibilis, suis quattuor partibus, ueluti quattuor elementis, constitutus.” Eriugena, Homélie, ed. Jeauneau, sec. 14, 11. 5–7, p. 270. 69 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 64. 70 Ibid., pp. 71-73. 71 This mosaic formed part of a large composition, a triumphal arch, with Christ and the apostles in the center and two groups of three figures on either side. Charle­magne’s group stands on the right side, from the spectator’s viewpoint, while oppo­site, on the left, one finds another group: Christ bestowing the keys on Pope Sylves­ter I and the labarum on Constantine. The labarum was a Roman military standard decorated with gold, jewels, and the effigy of the general commanding the army. Constantine transformed it into the imperial standard, according to Prudentius, by replacing the secular ornamentation with a crown, a cross, and a chi-rho. Christ placed the labarum, in this representation, in Constantine’s right hand. The whole mosaic emphasized the parallelism between Constantine and Charlemagne, and the two popes. For a discussion of the iconography and an illustration of the entire com­position, see Richard Krautheimer, “The Carolingian Revival of Early Christian Ar­chitecture,” in his Studies in Early Christian, Medieval, and Renaissance Art (New York: New York University Press, 1969), p. 236. 72 “Munjoie escrient, od els est Carlemagne. / Gefreid d’Anjou portet l’orieflambe: / Seint Piere fut, si aveit num Romaine, / Mais de Munjoie iloec out pris eschange. AOL” Chanson de Roland, 3092–95 (Brault’s edition). 73 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 72. 74 Historiae, 1. 5: “Erat autem instar speciei hujus mundanae molis, quae videlicet in quadam rotunditate circumsistere perhibetur, ut dum siquidem illud respiceret prin­ceps terreni imperii, foret et documentum, non aliter debere imperare vel militare in mundo quam ut dignus haberetur vivificae crucis tueri vexillo.” Migne, PL 142. 625D–626A.



75 Kantorowicz, The King’s 71470 Bodies, p. 61. 76 Ibid., p. 62. 77 “Otton II tient un globe crucifère, tandis que sur sa tête, la Main du Père depose un diadème.” Gerard Cames, Byzance et la peinture romane de Germanie (Paris: Picard, 1966), p. 40; “Die Hand Gottes senkt sich vom Himmel herab and kront das Haupt des jungen Kaisers.” Grimme, Der Aachener Domschatz (no. 74), p. 34. 78 Cf. Sheldon-Williams, “Eriugena’s Greek Sources,” in his The Mind of Eriugena, p. 12. This image is reinforced in a poem, Aulae Sidereae, by Eriugena in which he describes Charles the Bald enthroned in his cathedral, from which he sees all, as a kind of terrestrial surrogate for God’s all-seeing eye: Ipse throno celso fultus rex prospicit omnes Uertice sublimi gestans diadema paternum, Plena manus sciptris enchiridon aurea bactra.


Michel Foussard, “Aulae Sidereae: vers de Jean Scot au Roi Charles,” Cahiers ar­ chéologiques 21 (1971): 79–88. 79 Uhlfelder, p. xxviii. 80 De Divisione Naturae, 2. 23. Sheldon-Williams, vol. 2 [Dublin: Institute for Ad­ vanced Studies, 1972], pp. 100-02; Migne, PL 122. 570A-C. Passage summarized by Jean A. Potter in Uhlfelder, pp. 118-19. 81 Uhlfelder, p. xxxi. 82 “L’onction communique un caractère religieux, sacerdotal, mais le rite du couronne­ ment reste un instant décisif de la cérémonie. La couronne est un symbole ou s’ex­prime la personnalité juridique de l’Etat. Le peuple doit fidélité a la couronne, acces­soirement a celui qui la porte; c’est d’ailleurs la definition du quatrième concile de Tolède: ‘Ce qui fait le roi, ce n’est pas sa personne, c’est le Droit.” jean-Pierre Bayard, Le sacre des rois (Paris: Vieux Colombier, 1964), p. 109. 83 An example of the climate of opinion in which the king represented the rational approach to resolving difficulties in the world may be seen in the attempts, re­counted by Rodolphus and others, made in the early eleventh century by various monarchs to use the authority of their office to inaugurate an era of peace. Rodolphus himself recounts a “summit” meeting between Henry II, “the Holy,” of Germany, and Robert the Pious on 10 August 1023. Historiae, 3. 2. Migne, PL 142. 649A-D. “…sed viri eruditissimi illud uterque in mente habens: Quanto magnus es humilia to in omnibus….” (col. 649BC). 84 C. R. Dodwell proposed Trier instead of Reichenau as the locus for the Liuthar Group responsible for this illumination: C. R. Dodwell and D. H. Turner, Reichenau Recon­sidered: A Re-Assessment of the Place of Reichenau in Ottonian Art (London: The Warburg Institute, 1965), p. 29. Even if one accepts Dodwell’s hypothesis, our main points remain unchanged. Gerbert knew both places well. On Gerbert’s visits to Trier, see Lattin, The Letters of Gerbert, letters 162, 170. 85 Ibid., letter 230, p. 294. 86 Ibid., letter 232, p. 297. 87 Ibid., p. 298. 88 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 62.



89 De Divisione Naturae, 2. 23. Uhlfelder, p. 119. 90 Historiae, 3. 8: “in regno proprio Christi ovium pestem.” Migne, PL 142. 659D. 91 Ibid. “Ut autem cognovit rex, scilicet Robertus, ut erat doctissimus ac Christianis­ simus, tristis ac moerens nimium effectus, quoniam et ruinam patriae re vera et animarum metuebat interitum…” (col. 659D). “Quibus compertis, tam rex quam pontifices tristiores effecti interrogaverunt illos secretius…” (col. 660A). 92 Lattin, The Letters of Gerbert, letter 232, p. 297. 93 Historiae, 3. 8: “ut universa quae illius dispositioni incommutabiliter obediunt, con­tinue serviendo auctorem praedicent.” Migne, PL 142. 661B. 94 Acta synodi Atrebatensis in Manichaeos (text quoted above, n. 63). 95 Historiae, 3. 8: “Praeterea venerabilis Catholicae fidei cultus, exstirpata insanien­ tium pessimorum vesania, ubique terrarum clarior emicuit.” Migne, PL 142. 664A. Chapter 3. Charlemagne Redivivus: From History to Historia 1 “La visite qu’Otton III fit au tombeau de Charlemagne est l’événement le plus spec­ taculaire de l’an 1000.” Robert Folz, Le souvenir et la légende de Charlemagne dans l’empire germanique médiéval (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1950), p. 87. 2 Sulpicius Severus, Chronicorum, 2. 34. I am indebted to my colleague Charles T. Wood for drawing my attention to the parallels between Otto’s invention of Charle­ magne’s tomb and Saint Helena’s invention of the True Cross and the Cave of the Anastasis. The parallels become even more evident when one recalls subsequent medieval traditions where Charlemagne appears as the discoverer, or rediscoverer, of the True Cross; see, for instance, the illumination of this scene (with Roland and Oliver standing behind Charlemagne) in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Fr. 573, fol. 148v. 3 “Tous les lieux, tous les temps portent egalement les symboles du Christ que chaque temps formule.” Michel Foussard, “Aulae Sidereae: vers de jean Scot au Roi Charles,” Cahiers archéologiques 21 (1971): 82. 4 “In solio regio”: for a discussion of the controversy regarding the translation of this phrase in the late nineteenth century, see Folz, Le souvenir de Charlemagne, pp. 91–­ 92. Note, however, that in the most recent edition of Thietmar’s Chronicle, the edi­tor, Robert Holtzmann, opts unequivocally for “Thron” as the appropriate transla­tion for “solium.” 5 Karoli imperatoris ossa ubi requiescerent, cum dubitaret, rupto clam pavimento, ubi ea esse putavit, fodere iussit, quousque hec in solio regio inventa sunt. Crucem auream, que in colo eius pependit, cum vestimentorum parte adhuc imputribi­lium sumens, cetera cum veneracione magne reposuit. (Robert Holtzmann, ed., Thietmari Merseburgensis Episcopi Chronicon, 4. 47, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum germanicarum, nova series, vol. 9, 2d ed. [Berlin: Weidmannsche Verlag, 1955], pp. 185, 187; hereafter cited as MGH, Scriptores) 6 Post multa itaque annorum curricula tertius Otto imperator veniens in regionem, ubi Caroli caro jure tumulata quiescebat, declinavit utique ad locum sepulturae illius cum duobus episcopis et Ottone comite Laumellensi; ipse vero imperator fuit quartus. Narrabat autem idem comes hoc modo dicens: Intravimus ergo ad Carolum. Non



enim jacebat ut most est aliorum defunctorum corpora, sed in quandam cathedram ceu vivus residebat. Coronam auream erat coronatus, scep­trum cum mantonibus indutis tenens in manibus, a quibus jam ipse unguli per­forando processerant. Erat autem supra se turgurium ex calce et marmoribus valde compositum. Quod ubi ad eum venimus, protinus in eum foramen fragendo feci­mus. At ubi ad eum ingressi sumus odorem permaximum sentivimus. Adoravi­mus ergo eum statim poplitibus flexis a jenua; statimque Otto imperator albis eum vestimentis induit ungulosque incidit, et omnia deficientia circa eum repa­ravit. Nil vero ex artibus suis putrescendo adhuc defecerat, sed de summitate na­sui sui parum minus erat, quam ex auro ilico fecit restitui, abstrahensque ex illius ore dentem unum, reaedificato tuguriolo abiit. (Chronicon Novaliciense, 3. 32, in MGH, Scriptores, vol. 7, p. 106) 7 Quibus diebus Otto imperator per somnum monitus est ut levaret corpus Caroli Magni imperatoris, quod Aquis humatus erat, sed vetustate obliterante, ignoraba­ tur locus certus, ubi quiescebat. Et peracto triduano jejunio, inventus est eo loco, quem per visum cognoverat imperator, sedens in aurea cathedra, intra arcuatam speluncam, infra basilicam Marie, coronatus corona ex auro purissimo, et ipsum corpus incorruptum inventum est. Quod levatum populis demonstratum est. Qui­dam vero canonicorum ejusdem loci, Adalbertus, cum enormi et procero corpore esset, coronam Caroli quasi pro mensura capiti suo circumponens, inventus est strictiori vertice, coronam amplitudine sua vicentem circulum capitis. Crus pro­prium etiam ad cruris mensuram regis demetiens, inventus est brevior, et ipsum ejus crus protinus divina virtute confractum est. Qui supervivens annis XL, sem­per debilis permansit. Corpus vero Caroli conditum in dextro membro basilicae ipsius retro altare sancti Johannis Baptistae, et cripta aurea super illud mirifica est fabricata, multisque signis et miraculis clarescere cepit. Non tamen sollempnitas de ipso cogitur, nisi communi more anniversarium defunctorum. (Adémar de Cha­bannes, Chronique, ed. Jules Chavanon [Paris: Picard, 1897], pp: 153–54) 8 Frank Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 98. 9 See, for example, Peter Bloch, “Das Apsismosaik von Germigny-des-Près: Karl der Grosse und der Alte Bund,” in Karolingische Kunst, ed. Wolfgang Braunfels and Her­ mann Schnitzler, vol. 3 of Karl der Grosse: Lebenswerk und Nachleben (Dusseldorf: Schwann, 1966), pp. 234–61. 10 “Car le geste de saint Boniface versant l’huile sainte sur la tête de Pépin avait pour résultat de faire du Carolingien l’élu de Dieu, en même temps que l’élu du peuple. Sur ce point, nul doute non plus: renouvelé des temps bibliques, le sacre reprenait nécessairement aux yeux des contemporains son antique valeur…. Tel Saül, tel David, Pépin était l’oint du Seigneur….” Louis Halphen, Charlemagne et l’empire carolin­gien (Paris: Albin Michel, 1968), p. 30. For a more detailed account of the influence of the Hebrew Royal Period of the Old Testament on the spirituality and political, life of the Carolingians, see André Vauchez, La spiritualité du. Moyen Age Occiden­tal, VIIIe–XIIe siecles (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1975), pp. 10–18. 11 Edmonde-René Labande, Spiritualité et vie littéraire de l’Occident, Xe–XIVe siècles (London: Variorum Reprints, 1974), first two chapters: “Mirabilia Mundi: Essai sur la personalité d’Otton III.” Reprinted from, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 6 (1963):



297–313, 455–76. See also, Christopher Walter, “Papal Political Imagery in the Medieval Lateran Palace,” Cahiers archéologiques 20 (1970): 155–76, and 21 (1971): 109–36. 12 Adémar situates his account of the invention of Charlemagne’s tomb in the midst of a report concerning the successful efforts to Christianize the central European coun­ tries of Hungary Poland, and “Sclavania.” The success of these efforts was due to Saint Adalbert of Prague, who was martyred, and King Stephen of Hungary, with the help, or at least the promise of assistance, of Otto. 13 Chronique, ed. Chavanon, p. 152. 14 Folz, Le souvenir de Charlemagne, p. 93. 15 0. B. Hardison, Jr., Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages (Balti­ more: johns Hopkins, 1965), p. 178. 16 Richard Krautheimer, Studies in Early Christian, Medieval, and Renaissance Art (New York: New York University Press, 1969), pp. 108–09. 17 Adémar de Chabannes, 3. 47: “Tamen redincepta basilica, non fuit amplius similis priori nec pulchritudine nec magnitudine quam Helena, mater Constantini, regali sumptu perfecerat.” Chronique, ed. Chavanon, p. 170. 18 John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels (London: SPCK, 1971), p. 242. 19 Vita Constantini, 3. 25, in. Eusebius, trans. John Bernard (London: Palestine Pilgrims’ Texts Society, 1896), p. 3. 20 Rodolphus Glaber, Historia, 3. 7; Adémar de Chabannes, 3. 47. 21 Cf. Notker Balbulus, Monk of St. Gall, Gesta Karon Magni, 2. 9, in MGH, Scriptores, vol. 12, pp. 64–65. 22 “Peter the Deacon’s Book on Holy Places,” quoted in Wilkinson, Egeria, pp. 180– 81. 23 MGH, Scriptores, vol. 4, pp. 447–49. See Folz, Le souvenir de Charlemagne, pp. 24–­ 25, for a discussion of the Translatio Sanguinis. 24 Ibid., pp. 24–25. 25 MGH, Scriptores, vol. 3, p. 708, chap. 23. See Folz, Le souvenir de Charlemagne, pp. 135–37. 26 All Charlemagne’s political ideas, his conception of a new Empire, and of his own status were based upon the image of the first Christian emperor. Numerous doc­uments testify to the parallel which time and again was drawn between the Car­olingian house and Constantine: the scribes of the papal chancellery…referred to [Charlemagne] as the “New Constantine”; the crown which Constantine was supposed to have given to Pope Sylvester was allegedly used in 816 by Stephen V for the coronation of Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious; Aix-la-Chapelle was in Carolingian terminology a Nova Roma, like Constantinople in the phraseology of the fourth century. (Krautheimer, Studies in Art, pp. 235–36) 27 Ibid., chap. 13. 28 Ibid., p. 115. 29 Ibid., chap. 8. See also Geneviève Bresc-Bautier, “Les imitations du Saint-Sépulcre de Jérusalem (IXe–XVe siècles),” Revue de l’histoire de la spiritualité 50 (1974): 319–42. 30 Krautheimer, Studies in Art, p. 141. 31 Ibid., p. 111.



32 Ibid. 33 Ibid., p. 109. 34 Ibid., p. 107. 35 Ibid., p. 111. 36 Ibid., p. 109. 37 Ibid., p. 108. 38 Ibid., p. 107. 39 Chronique dite Saintongeaise, ed. André de Mandach (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1970), p. 330. Cf. also, “Karles si est a dire ‘lumiere de char’ car it anluminoit tous les rois terriens d’esnor et de preece.” La Traduction du Pseudo-Turpin du manuscrit Vatican Regina 624, ed. Claude Buridant (Geneva: Droz, 1976), p. 122. 40 The Penguin Book of Latin Verse, ed. Frederick Brittain (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1962), p. 146. Line 10, “dextrae Dei to digitus” (the finger of the right hand of God), makes explicit a role for Christ that Charlemagne will come to fulfill when cast as the strong right arm of God. 41 Quoted by Hardison, Christian Rite and Christian Drama, pp. 178–79. 42 Ibid., p. 178. 43 “‘Non solum,’ inquit Rotolandus, ‘Dei filius a mortuis resurrexit, verum etiam omnes homines qui fuere ab inicio usque ad finem sunt resurgendi ante eius tribunal…’ ” (“The Son of God did not come back from death alone,” said Roland, “but that all men who have been born since the beginning of the world and will be until the end will be resuscitated on the day of Judgment…”). Historia Karoli Magni et Rotho­landi, ed. C. Meredith-Jones (Paris: Droz, 1936), chap. 17, p. 159. 44 Life of Charlemagne, chap. 31, trans.’ Samuel Turner (Ann Arbor: University of Mich­igan Press, 1960), p. 60. 45 Dompnus vero piissimus et gloriosissimus imperator Karolus, dum Aquisgrani hiemaret, anno septuagesimo primo etatis sue, regni autem quadragesimo sep­ timo, subacte autem Italie quadragesimo tercio, imperii vero quarto decimo, rebus humanis excessit XV kal. februarii, sepultus Aquis in basilica Dei genitricis, quam ipse construxerat. Corpus ejus aromatizatum et in sede aurea sedens positus estin curvatura sepulchri, ense aureo accinctus, evangelium aureum tenens in man­ibus et genibus, reclinatis humeris in cathedra, et capite honeste erecto, ligato aurea cathena ad diadema; et in diademate lignum Crucis positum. Et repleverunt sepulchrum ejus aromatibus, pigmentis, balsamo et musgo et thesauris. Vestitum est corpus ejus indumentis imperialibus, et sudario sub diademate facies ejus operta est. Sceptum aureum et scutum aureum, quod Leo papa consecraverat, ante eum posita, et sigillatum est sepulchrum ei. (Chronique, 2. 25, ed. Chavanon, p. 105) Note the care Adémar takes to date Charlemagne’s death according to his different qualities as man, king, and emperor. 46 For a description of the sketch, see A. Wilmart, Codices Reginenses latini (Biblio­ thecae Apostolicae Vaticanae codices manu scripti recensiti, Rome, 1945), vol. 2, pp. 47–49. The sketch was identified as Adémar’s by Danielle Gaborit-Chopin, “Un dessin de l’église d’Aix-la-Chapelle par Adémar de Chabannes dans un manuscrit de



la Bibliothèque Vaticane,” Cahiers archéologiques 14 (1964): 233–35. See also Helmut Beumann, “Grab and Thron Karls des Grossen zu Aachen,” in Karl der Grosse: Das Nachleben, ed. W. Braunfels and P. E. Schramm (Dusseldorf: Schwann, 1967), pp. 9­38; for the sketch, pp. 36–38. 47 Folz, Le souvenir de Charlemagne, pp. 49–50, 93. 48 Jean-Pierre Bayard, Le sacre des rois (Paris: Vieux Colombier, 1964h pp. 101-20. 49 Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. dom F. Cabrol and dom H. Leclercq (Paris: Letouzy, 1913), vol. 3, col. 743. 50 On the relationship of the ambulatory reliefs at Saint-Sernin to the construction of the basilica, see Thomas W. Lyman, “Notes on the Porte Miègeville Capitals and the Construction of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse,” The Art Bulletin 49 (1974): 25–36, partic­ ularly pp. 27–28, 30, 31. 51 Ernest Rupin, L’Abbaye et les cloîtres de Moissac (Paris: Picard, 1897), p. 24. 52 An interesting study of the consequences of this policy on the Carolingian art may be seen in such articles as Bloch, “Das Apsismosaik von Germigny-des-Près.” 53 May Vieillard-Troïekouroff, “La Chapelle du Palais de Charles le Chauve à Com­ piègne,” Cahiers archéologiques 21 (1971): 89–108: “L’évocation poétique que jean Scot fait de la chapelle palatine de Charles le Chauve, montre qu’il s’agirait, si on en fait un commentaire archéologique suivi, d’une copie assez fidèle de la chapelle d’Aix” (p. 90). 54 Foussard, “Aulae Sidereae,” pp. 79-88. 55 Eriugena, De Divisione Naturae, bk. 2. Migne, PL 122. 572C. Cf. Foussard, “Aulae Sidereae,” p. 80: “L’édifice construit sur le nombre huit manifeste ainsi la course des astres, l’harmonie qui les unit dans la sagesse créatrice, l’histoire du salut et du Sau­ veur; mais ce ne sont la qu’indications pour le profane, pour le rudis que jean Scot presse de s’envoler et de franchir ‘le spectacle des sens’ afin de pénétrer ‘l’harmonie des réalitiés sous la conduite de la sagesse’ (vers 16–18).” 56 Foussard, “Aulae Sidereae,” p. 84. 57 Rita Lejeune and Jacques Stiennon, La légende de Roland dans l’art du moyen age (Bruxelles: Arcade, 1966), vol. 1, p. 139b. 58 Ibid., pp. 142b–143a. 59 Ibid., p. 143a. 60 Summer McKnight Crosby, “Abbot Suger, the Abbey of Saint-Denis, and the New Gothic Style,” in The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis in the Time of Abbot Suger, ed. S. McK. Crosby et al. (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 1981), p. 19. 61 Bayard, Le sacre des rois, p. 254. 62 Bibliothèque Nationale, Lat. 9654. Reproduced in Robert Folz, Le couronnement im­périal de Charlemagne (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), pl. 14. 63 Foussard, “Aulae Sidereae,” p. 82. Chapter 4. Historia and the Poetics of the Passion 1 Recent studies of the Charlemagne window fix its date at about 1225. For a detailed description of the window and a new interpretation of the panels, see Clark Maines, “The Charlemagne Window at Chartres Cathedral: New Considerations on Text and Image,” Speculum 52 (1977): 800-23. Emile Male’s discussion of the window is still



readily available in The Gothic Image (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1958), pp. 347­ –52. 2 For a description of the Charlemagne history window at Saint Denis, see Louis Gro­decki, Les Vitraux de Saint-Denis: étude sur le vitrail aux XIIe siècle, vol. I (Paris: CNRS, Arts et métiers graphiques, 1976), “Les vitraux perdus de la première croisade et de Charlemagne,” pp. 115–21. Grodecki dates these windows to the mid-twelfth century on the basis of style, iconography, and archaeological detail. More detailed iconographic and stylistic studies of the window will appear in volumes 2 and 3 of Grodecki’s comprehensive survey of the windows at Saint Denis. 3 “de materialibus ad immaterialia excitans.” De Administratione, 34. 74. 2. Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, ed. and trans. Erwin Panofsky (Prince­ton: Princeton University Press, 1946), pp. 74–75 (2d ed., ed. Gerda Panofsky-Soergel, [Princeton, 1979]). 4 The legend of Charlemagne’s incestuous union with his sister was recounted in the eleventh-century life of Saint Gilles, the Vita Sancti Aegidii. The text may be found today in the Acta Sanctorum, 9 September, 299–304. The Oxford version of the Ro­ land mentions an account of the battle of Roncevaux and its aftermath by Saint Gilles (11. 2095-98, Bédier’s edition), and the Karl der Grosse of the Stricker (“Rhap­sode”), c. 1250, mentions a legend whereby Saint Gilles was apprised of the details of the battle at Roncevaux by an angel sent by God and wrote them down to give to Charlemagne. Similarly, the twelfth-century Kaiserchronik states that Charlemagne confessed his sins to Saint Gilles. The exact nature of the sin is not spelled out in vernacular literature, however, until later, in such works as the Karlmagnus Saga in Iceland and the Occitan Ronsasvals. 5 Modern scholars, both literary and art historical, have tended to view “history” as secular. Panofsky, for example, considered the kind of material found in the Charle­ magne window as secular (see Abbot Suger, p. 195, n. 8). His view rejects that of the majority of commentators. See also Grodecki’s discussion of the Charlemagne win­ dow at Saint Denis mentioned above. We should note that the Abbé Delaporte cate­ gorically denied the religious connotations of the Charlemagne window in his fa­mous monograph, published in 1926: “si le grand empereur a eu dans notre cathédrale les honneurs d’une verrière, il est moins redevable à sa sainteté qu’à son rôle poli­tique et à la gloire qui entourait son nom.” Yves Delaporte and Etienne Houvet, Les vitraux de la cathédrale de Chartres (Chartres: Houvet, 1926), p. 314. 6 Henri Focillon, L’Art d’Occident, vol. 2, Le moyen âge gothique (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1965), pp. 236–37. 7 “Pervading Suger’s writings and physically manifested in the luminosity of the new windows was the philosophy of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite…. Given the pre­ vailing belief that there was a direct historical connection between Saint Denis and the Apostle Paul, it is not surprising that both the Epistles of Paul and the Neopla­ tonic philosophy of Pseudo-Dionysius inspired the iconographic program devised for the choir windows.” Jane Hayward, “Stained Glass at Saint Denis,” in The Royal Abbey of Saint Denis in the Time of Abbot Suger, ed. S. McK. Crosby et al. (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 1981), p. 63. See also Panofsky, Abbot Suger, 2d ed., pp. 19–25. 8 Georges Duby, Le temps des cathédrales, l’art et la société 980–1420 (Paris, Galli­



mard, 1976), p. 36. 9 The ironic interplay whereby symbols emptied of physical content could realize a plenitude of meaning derived from one of the basic representational subjects of the period: the Resurrection. The portentous significance of the Resurrection at this time was incessantly and invariably figured by an “empty” container: the tomb and the sarcophagus. 10 Eriugena, De Divisione Naturae, 1. 10: “per intellectum in intellectibus per rati­ onem in rationibus, non per seipsam diuina essentia apparebit.” Migne, PL 122. 450C. 11 Ibid., 3.10. 12 The three texts which have been identified as forming the basis for the iconographic program of the window are the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi (or Pseudo­Turpin), the Vita Sancti Aegidii, and the Descriptio qualiter Karolus Magnus clavum et coronam Domini a Constantinopoli Aquisgrani detulerit. All of these texts have late eleventh- or early twelfth-century proveniences, although the dates of the first and third are still disputed. For a discussion of the Descriptio, see Robert Folz, Le souvenir et la légende de Charlemagne dans l’empire germanique médiéval (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1950), pp. 179-81. See also Maines, “The Charlemagne Window.” 13 For a discussion of the late nineteenth- and twentieth-century controversy regarding the dating of the Historia, see André de Mandach, Naissance et développement de la chanson de geste en Europe, vol. 2, La Chronique de Turpin (Geneva: Droz, 1963), pp. 11-14. In vol. 1, La geste de Charlemagne et de Roland (Geneva: Droz, 1961), Mandach provides effective evidence to reestablish the probability of an eleventh-century date for the earliest versions of the Historia. Although it seems difficult to believe that some form of the Historia would not have existed in the late eleventh century, the question of dating really does not affect the premises of this chapter. By the same token, the controversy over the order of composition of the Historia and the Chanson de Roland is immaterial to this chapter and the next. 14 Henri Focillon, The Art of the West (London: Phaidon, 1963), p. 69. 15 Louis Grodecki, L’Architecture Ottonienne (Paris: Armand Colin, 1958), p. 291. One analogy used to convey the part/whole relationship in the twelfth century was that of the human body, where each part has a function independent of the others but necessarily connected to the whole body. The basilica of Saint James at Compostela is so described in the chapter devoted to “De ecclesiae mensura” of the Guide du Merin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, 4th. ed., ed. Jeanne Vielliard (Macon: Pro-tat Frères, 1969), pp. 86-92. 16 “Friedrich Nietzsche, Rhétorique et langage,” ed. Philippe Lacoul-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, Poétique 5 (1971): 124. 17 See, for example, Henri Focillon, L’an mil (Paris: Armand Colin, 1952); L. Grodecki, L’Architecture Ottonienne; Herwin Schaefer, “The Origin of the Two-Tower Façade in Romanesque Architecture,” The Art Bulletin 27 (June 1945): 85-108; Carol Heitz, “Architecture et liturgie processionnelle a l’époque préromane,” Revue de l’Art 24 (1974): 30–47; Jean Hubert, “Introïbo ad altare,” Revue de l’Art 24 (1974): 9–21. 18 Grodecki, L’Architecture Ottonienne, pp. 309–10; Schaefer, “The Origin of the TwoTower Façade,” p. 85. 19 “Le culte de la croix était au Haut Moyen Age d’une exceptionnelle intensité. L’hy­



pogée des Dunes de Poitiers en porte témoignage. Pour l’époque carolingienne, la place de la croix au milieu de la nef est attestée, outre à Centula, à Reims et à Corvey ainsi qu’à Fulda et à Saint-Denis.” Heitz, “Architecture et liturgie processionnelle,” p. 46, n. 1920 Ibid., pp. 30–47. 21 Ibid., p. 35. 22 Ferdinand Lot, Chronique de 1’Abbaye de Saint-Riquier (Paris, 1894). 23 Heitz, “Architecture et liturgie processionnelle,” pp. 35–36. 24 [U]ne même communion mêlait toute l’assistance, le jour de Pâques, dans l’Anastasis, la Rotonde de la Résurrection bâtie autour du Saint-Sépulchre. Plus d’une donnée apparente d’ailleurs la Turris Sancti Salvatoris de Centula à son ainée de Jérusalem…la position à l’Ouest de l’antéglise du Sauveur rejoint celle de l’An­astasis au sein du complexe architectural élevé près du Saint-Sépulchre. L’altare sanctae Crucis dans la nef se situe à peu pros comme le Golgotha par rapport au Saint-Sépulchre . . . it me semble difficile de contester la parenté entre la Terris Salvatoris et L’Anastasis. L’antéglise neustrienne est cependant une approxima­tion plutôt qu’une copie littérale. (Ibid., p. 33) 25 “[U]t in nostro opere gratiam septiformem Sancti Spiritus demonstremus.” Ibid., p. 36. We might note also that celebrants and participants performed, in effect, a mi­ mesis, with their own bodies, of Christ’s sacrifice. Collectively, they form a huge crossshape within the structure of the church; individually, each person took a place on that Cross in imitation of Christ. In this way, they reinforce their identity with the human part of Christ and the benefits his sacrifice was seen as winning for them. But they also marked the difference between Christ, the sacrificial victim, and them­selves, the beneficiaries. 26 “La force qu’Aristote appelle rhétorique, qui est la force de démêler et de faire valoir, pour chaque chose, ce qui est efficace et fait de l’impression, cette force est en même temps l’essence du langage; celui-ci se rapporte aussi peu que la rhétorique au vrai, a l’essence des choses; it ne veut pas instruire, mais transmettre a autrui une émo­tion, une appréhension subjective.” Lacoul-Labarthe and Nancy, “Friedrich Nietzsche, Rhétorique et langage,” p. 111. 27 For a discussion of Eriugena’s use of Genesis as an extensive concept, see Brian Stock, “The Philosophical Anthropology of Johannes Scottus Eriugena,” Studi Medievali, 3d series, 8 (1967): 1–57; particularly, pp. 12–46. The following passages illustrate the ideas at work: “Time and eternity are not absolutes, eternally opposed, but rela­tives, mutually interdependent” (p. 39). “Two new paradises have emerged…. The pair are for [Eriugena] the inner and outer qualities of man. Only the inner state, imago, was truly paradise. The second, outer state, similitudo, is a paradise towards which man can direct himself on earth, and merges with the eschatological paradise which is the return of all things to their original states. For this conception of para­dise, however, man must have an historical reality. The second idea has no meaning if man is not an existential creature in a physical as well as a metaphysical sense. At the end of time, the two paradises again become one. Diversitas becomes unitas” (p. 43). 28 Vexillum regis uenerabile cuncta regentis O crux sancta micans super omnia sidera caeli, Mortifero lapsis gustu quae sola reportas


Antidotum uitae fructum suspensa perhennem, Te colo, te fateor, uenerans te pronus adoro. Christus, principium, finis, surrectio, uita, Merces, lux, requies, sanctorum doxa, corona, Pro seruis dominus redimendis hostia factus, In te suspendens per lignum toxica ligni Purgauit clausae reserando limina uitae.


[ll. 1–10]

The Letters and Poems of Fulbert of Chartres, ed. and trans. Frederick Behrends (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 244. 29 See, for example, the illumination of Louis the Pious depicted as Defender of the Faith with cross and shield underlying the text of Hrabanus’s poem: Nationalbib­ liothek, Vienna, Cod. 652 f 3v. Although frequently reproduced, this illumination may be most readily seen in such works as Friedrich Heer’s The World of Charle­magne (New York: Macmillan, 1975), p. 257. 30 Die Elfenbeinskulpturen aus der Zeit der karolingischen and sächsischen Kaiser, VIII–XI Jahrhundert, 4 vols. (Berlin: Cassirer, 1914–20). 31 See, for example, Scottus Eriugena, Homélie sur le prologue de Jean, ed. and trans. Edouard Jeauneau (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1969), pp. 200ff. 32 The primacy of John as the privileged intimate of Christ is a widespread medieval belief. The following passage from Eriugena’s Homily on the Prologue to John sug­gests the rhetorical force of this belief: O bienheureux Jean, ce n’est pas sans raison qu’on t’appelle Jean. Le nom Jean est hébreu; il se traduit en grec par [O Echarísato], ce qui veut dire “Celui a qui une grace a été accordée.” Car a quel théologien a-t-il été accordé ce qui t’a été accordé, à savoir de pénétrer les mystères cachés du souverain Bien, et de mettre à la portée de l’intelligence et de la sensibilité humaines les vérités qui t’ont été révélées et manifestées? A qui donc, encore une fois, fut accordée grâce si grande et si excel­ lente? (2. 1; pp. 209–11 in Jeauneau) 33 “La théoria se présente le plus souvent comme l’élaboration théologique d’un texte biblique [historia]. Jean Scot déclare qu’il ne doit pas y avoir conflit entre les deux: PL 122, 501C,11–12.” Ibid., p. 203, n. 6. 34 I prefer the term cruciform semiosis to a more traditional formulation such as cru­ ciform symbolism for its accuracy in describing the kind of triadic sign production we have seen at work. It intends a sign system, used in a wide variety of ways in the period we have been examining, to convey the pervasiveness and signification of Christ’s Passion as a means of “reading” the world as a divine construct. Thanks to the polysemous nature of the Cross—at once referent, signified, and signifier—cruciform semiosis, as we have repeatedly seen, operates both on the plane of expression and on that of content. Just as the early Christian and medieval philosophers viewed the Crucifixion as giving transcendent meaning to disparate and hitherto unrelated objects—Christ, the cross, Golgotha, the Tree of Life, Adam, the Fall, Mary, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, the Bronze Serpent, the Lance of Longinus, etc.—so cruciform se­miosis



provided a principle of coherent composition for verbal and visual art; an authorization to juxtapose and analogize heterogeneous elements such as the devel­opment of a Galician shrine dedicated to Saint James of Compostela, and the life and death of a Frankish hero (Roland). Cruciform semiosis also assured the homogeneity of the artistic production in this period by creating formal and thematic similarities between different kinds of art forms and subjects, e.g., hagiography, stained glass windows, architecture, liturgical rites, painting, epics, chronicles, lyric poetry. Yet cruciform semiosis did not mean that artists and audience in this period saw the “same” work everywhere. Even if the ultimate purpose were to show the pervasiveness of the same event, the Passion, the very concept of the augmentative aesthetic, with its combinatory principle of unifying disparates, guaranteed a diversity to the art of the time. It is precisely the variety of Romanesque art, which yet demonstrates a powerful coherence, that makes it so interesting to us. Finally, because it is a connotative, analogizing principle of sign production, cru­ciform semiosis relies upon a homogeneous social milieu and a specific historical period during which artists and audience alike share the same or highly similar ho­rizons of knowledge and expectation. As for the term semiosis, I follow Peirce’s def­inition: “by ‘semiosis’ I mean an action or influence which is, or involves, a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs.” Charles Peirce, Collected Papers of C. S. Peirce, ed. Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931–58), vol. 484. 35 “La Passion du Christ,” ed. Gaston Paris, Romania 2 (1873): 295–314. 36 John 3: 16: “So that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” 37 For a comprehensive description of the term Anakephalaiosis and its principal root, Kephale, in classical and New Testament times, see Gerhard Kittle, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1965), vol. 3, pp. 673–82, and particularly pp. 679–82. 38 Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in his Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (London: Tavistock, 1966), p. 3. 39 Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art (Greenwich, Ct.: New York Graphic Society, 1972), vol. 2, p. 135. 40 Ibid. 41 Jules Viard, ed., Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Charlemagne (Paris: So­ ciété de l’histoire de France, 1933). 42 See my article “Historical Illusion and Poetic Reality in the Chansons de Geste,” French Review 43 (1969): 23–33. This is very much the spirit that led the Abbé Delaporte to make the statement quoted in n. 5 above. 43 Ttilpinus Dei gratia Remensis archiepiscopus ac sedulus triumphalis Karoli Magni in expeditione Hispanie socius Leobrando Aquisgranensi decano, salutem in Christo. …ut vobis scriberem qualiter imperator noster famosissimus Karolus Magnus Hispaniam et Galiciam a potestate Sarracenorum liberavit, mirabilium gestorum apices, ejusque laudanda super Hispanie Sarracenis trophea, que propriis oculis



intuitus sum XIIII annis Hispaniam perambulans, et Galiciam, una cum eo et ex­ercitibus suis, pro certo scribere vestreque fraternitati mittere non ambigo. Mag­nalia enim que rex gessit in Hyspania, in nullis plene chronicis sufficienter inve­niuntur divulgata, et, ut mihi scripsistis, ea plenaria repperire vestra nequivit fraternitas. (The Pseudo-Turpin, ed. H. M. Smyser [Cambridge: Medieval Acad­ emy, 1937], pp. 55–56) 44 Later versions of the Historia, particularly the translations, “read” “Turpin’s” selfinscription as it was intended. They base the “truth” of their version on his au­thority: por ce si n’an doit l’an mie douter qu’ele ne soit voire, car cil sans doute qui le mistrent an estoire furent partout la ou ce fust fait et le veirent a lor iauz, por ce si an sommes plus par aus certien et plus seurement ancommançons a traitier l’estoire et les mervoilleus faiz le grant Karlon de cui nus ne puet trop dire, ne nus n’an dist onquens tant bien de la moitie comme il an fu. (La Traduction du PseudoTurpin du manuscrit Vatican Regina 624, ed. Claude Buridant [Geneva: Droz, 1976], p. 86) 45 Hincmar, archeveque de Reims, en écrivant au IX’ siècle la vie de saint Rani, raconte ainsi la cérémonie du baptême: “Comme Rémi et Clovis arrivaient au baptistère, le clerc qui portait le chrême est arrêté par le peuple, en sorte qu’il ne put parvenir a la fontaine baptismale. A cette fontaine bénite, par la volonté divine, il manquait donc le Saint-Chrême. Et comme la foule du peuple empêchait d’entrer dans l’église ou d’en sortir, le saint Pontifé, levant au ciel les yeux et les mains, se mit tacitement a prier en répandant des larmes. Et soudain une colombe plus blanche que la neige, apporta dans son bec une petite ampoule, pleine de Saint-Chrême, dont l’odeur suave, bien supérieure â celle de l’encens et des cierges, frappa tous les assistants. Le saint Pontife ayant pris cette petite ampoule, la colombe disparut….” Cette origine miraculeuse de la Sainte-Ampoule a d’importantes répercussions. Elle confirme le roi dans son rôle divin et le fait bénéficier d’un sacrement bien particulier, a lui seul réserver. Elle donne à la vine de Reims le privilege de sacrer les rois. (JeanPierre Bayard, Le sacre des rois [Paris: Vieux Colombier, 1964], p. 49) 46 “Charlemagne’s Dream of Saint James.” Codex Calixtinus (fourteenth century). Vatican Library, Arch. S. Pietro, MS C 128, folio 133v. This miniature appears on page 130 of the first edition of Romanesque Signs. 47 [C]aminus stellarum quem in celo vidisti, hoc significat quod tu cum magno ex­ ercitu ad expugnandum gentem paganorum perfidam, et liberandum iter meum et tellurem, et ad visitandam basilicam et sarcofagum meum, ab his horis usque ad Galleciam iturus es, et post te omnes populi a mari usque ad mare peregrinantes, veniam delictorum suorum a Domino impetrantes, illuc ituri sunt, narrantes laudes Domini et virtutes eius, et mirabilia eius quae fecit. A tempore vero vitae tuae usque ad finem praesentis seculi ibunt…. (Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi ou Chronique du Pseudo-Turpin, ed. C. Meredith-Jones [Paris: Droz, 1936], pp. 91, 93; hereafter cited as Historia)



48 “Itaque Gallecia in primis temporibus a Sarracenis expedita virtute Dei et beati Ia­cobi, et auxilio Karoli, constat honesta usque in hodiernum diem in fide ortodoxa.” Ibid., p. 175. 49 See Edmond Pognon, L’an mille (Paris: Gallimard, 1947), p. 89. 50 Vielliard, ed., Guide du Pèlerin, pp. 47, 109. We should recall, in this context, that the Guide du Pèlerin constituted the fifth book of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, while the Historia Karoli Magni formed the fourth book. The Codex Calixtinus, preserved in the cathedral archives of Saint James of Compostela, and dating from the twelfth century, has been generally accepted as the oldest and therefore the preferred manu­ script of the Liber. See Meredith-Jones, ed., Historia Karoli Magni, p. 42, for a dis­ cussion of the Codex Calixtinus. 51 See Karl der Grosse: Lebenswerk and Nachleben, vol. 4, Das Nachleben, ed. Wolf­ gang Braunfels and Percy Ernst Schramm (Dusseldorf: Schwann, 1967). 52 Tres apostolicas sedes principales prae omnibus sedibus in orbe merito religio christiana venerari praecipue consuevit, romanam scilicet, gallecianam et ephesi­ anam. Sicut enim tres apostolos, Petrum videlicet, et Iacobum et Iohannem, prae omnibus apostolis Cominus instituit, quibus sua secreta ceteris plenius, ut in evangeliis patet, revelavit, sic per eos tres has sedes prae omnibus cosmi sedibus reverenda[s] constituit. Et merito hae sedes dicuntur principales, quia sicut hi tres apostoli dignitatis gratia ceteros praecesserunt apostolos, sic loca illa sacrosancta in quibus praedicaverunt, et sepulti fuere, dignitatis excellentia omnes totius orbis sedes iure praecedere debent. Iure Roma sedes apostolica prima ponitur, quia eam princeps apostolorum Petrus praedicatione sua et proprio sanguine et sepultura dedicavit. Compostella namque sedes secunda merito dicitur, quia beatus Iacobus qui inter ceteros apostolos praecipua dignitate et honore et honestate maior post beatum Petrum extitit, et in celis primatum super illos tenet, prius martirio lau­ reatus eam sua praedicatione olim munivit, sepultura sua sacratissima conse­cravit, et miraculis adhuc perlustrat, et indeficientibus beneficiis indesinenter ditare non cessat. Tercia sedes rite Ephesus dicitur, quia beatus Iohannes evange­lista in ea evangelium suum, scilicet: In principio erat verbum, eructavit, coad­unato episcoporum concilio quos ipse per urbes disposuerat, quos etiam in apo­chalipsi sua angelos vocat. Eamque suis praedicationibus et miraculis et baselica, quam in ea aedificavit, immo propria sepultura eam consecravit. Si ergo aliqua iudicia aut divina aut humana in aliis sedibus orbis sua gravitate discerni forte nequeunt, in his tribus sedibus tractari et diffiniri legitime et iuste debent. (His­toria, pp. 173, 175) 53 Historia, p. 201: “Et statim, Tedrico recedente, in hac confessione et prece beati Rotolandi martinis anima beata a corpore egreditur,…” Le Guide du Pèlerin, ed. Vielliard, p. 78. “Deinde apud Blavium in maritima, beati Romani presidia petenda sunt, in cujus basilica requiescit corpus beati Rotolandi martinis, qui, cum esset genere nobilis, comes scilicet Karoli Magni regis, de numero .XIIcim. pugnatorum ad expugnandas gentes perfidas zelo fidei septus, Yspaniam in­gressus est.” 54 Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, vol. 1, p. 15. Cf. “The miracle of Aaron’s rod was thought of as a prefiguration of God’s choice of Mary and her Virgin mother­ hood,” vol. 1, p. 41. And also, vol. 1, p. 54: “Aaron’s rod, from the story of his calling to



the priesthood, is a symbol of election and its flowering in the night was inter­preted as alluding to the miracle of Christ’s birth.” 55 Historia, p. 111. “Die vero illa agitur utrorumque pugna in qua occisi sunt quadra­ ginta Christianorum milia, et dux Milo, Rotolandi, genitor, cum his quorum hastae fronduerunt, ibi palmam martirii adeptus est….” 56 Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, vol. 2, p. 128. 57 Ibid., p. 130. 58 Ibid. 59 Tunc gigas, audito hoc verbo, miratus est multum, dixitque ei: Rotolande, cur tot verba inania mihi profers? Impossibile est ut homo mortuus denuo ad vitam re­surgat.—Non solum, inquit Rotolandus, Dei filius a mortuis resurrexit, verum etiam omnes homines qui fuere ab inicio usque ad finem sunt resurgendi ante eius tribunal…. Et ipse [Deus], qui plures mortuos ante suam passionem suscitavit, facile a mortuis resurrexit, et a morte nullatenus teneri potuit, ante cuius con­ spectum mors ipsa fugit, ad cuius vocem mortuorum phalans resurrexit. (Historia, pp. 159, 161) 60 “And Yahweh answered him, ‘Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard; and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.” Numbers 21: 8–9. 61 Historia, p. 153. 62 “Cuius vox tunc usque ad Karoli aures, qui erat hospitatus cum proprio exercitu in Valle Karoli, loco scilicet qui distabat a Rotolando VIII miliariis versus Gasconiam, angelico ductu pervenit.” Historia, p. 193. 63 Basic to the concept and function of historia in the Middle Ages, or at least the part that concerns us, is what Eugene Vance has called “the commemor ative act.” Com­ memoration plays a crucial role in that aspect of medieval culture focused on the past as at once the origin and interpreter of the present. Vance defines commemora­tion as a medieval cultural phenomenon in the following terms: “By ‘commemora­tion,’ I mean any act, whether ritual or not, aimed at recapitulating, in the name of the community, an event which is either past or timeless, for the purpose of render­ing it real and signifying part of the hic et nunc of lived reality.” “Roland et la poé­tique de la memoire,” Cahiers d’études médiévales 1 (1975): 103-15. 64 Habebat ipse adhuc quandam spatam suam secum, accione pulcherrimam, acu­ mine fortissimam, fortitudine inflexibilem, nimia claritate resplendentem, nomine Durenda. Durenda interpretatus durum ictum cum ea da, vel dure cum ea percute Sarracenum, quia frangi ullo modo nequit. Prius deficiet brachium quam spata. Quam cum evaginasset, et manu eam teneret, intuitus eam lacrimosis vocibus dixit: O gladius pulcherrimus, non more furbidus sed semper lucidissimus, longi­tudine decentissimus, latitudine congruus, fortitudine firmus, manutentente eburneo candidissimus, cruce aurea splendidissumus, superficie deauratus, pommo berillino decoratus, litteris carissimis magno nomine Dei, Alpha et [Omega] sculptus, acumine legitimus, Dei virtute circundatus…” (Historia, xxii, 189, 191)



A sixteenth-century illustration from Guillaume Cretin’s Recueil sommaire des chroniques françoyses clearly shows the “Alpha et Omega” incised on the blade of Durendal: Rita Lejeune and Jacques Stiennon, La légende de Roland dans l’art du moyen age, vol. 2 (Brussels: Arcade, 1966), pl. 508. 65 Because iconographic representation of this scene requires Baudoin to be shown with a container for the water—indicating what he is trying to do—some scholars, e.g., Rita Lejeune and Jacques Stiennon, La légende de Roland dans l’art du moyen age, feel that there exists a version, now lost, in which Baudoin did find water. This conjecture transforms an important element of christological symbolism into a banal act of comfort hardly worthy of having a panel of the Charlemagne window devoted to it. I follow Maines, “The Charlemagne Window at Chartres,” in rejecting Le­jeune’s and Stiennon’s interpretation. 66 Et statim, tedreico recedente, in hac confessione et prece beati Rotolandi martinis anima beata a corpore egreditur, et ab angelis in perhenni requie transfertur, ubi regnat et exultat sine meta, choris sanctorum martirum dignitate meritorum an­ nexa. Historia, p. 201. Indicative of the force of the Passion tradition in the representations of such scenes is the fact that, unlike the Oxford Roland, all the versions of the Historia portray Roland’s death scene as having a witness and mourner, Thierry, who arrives imme­diately after Baudoin’s departure. We saw the function of the witnesses and mour­ners, Mary and Saint John, in the iconographic representations of the Passion. Thierry fulfills much the same function in this instance. Indeed, some later manuscript il­luminations show both Baudoin and Thierry beside the dying Roland, e.g., Les Grandes Chroniques de France (London, British Museum, MS Royal 16 G VI, f. 179 r). Chapter 5. Roncevaux and the Poetics of Place/Person in the Song of Roland 1 One need think only of the descriptions of famous medieval battles by Joinville, Froissart, Commynes, etc., to recognize the force of what we don’t find in the case of Roncevaux. From the eleventh and early twelfth centuries—to take only works from the same period as the early versions of the Roncevaux material—we have very specific descriptions of battles told from the perspective of military strategy. In the case of the Battle of Hastings, for instance, we have the Bayeux Tapestry and the prose and poetic narratives of Guy of Amiens, William of Poitiers, and Orderic Vi­talis. 2 Joseph Bédier, Les légendes épiques, vol. 3 (Paris: Champion, 1921), p. 303. Bédier’s lead has been followed up by D. J. A. Ross of Birkbeck College, London. In a series of articles, he has shown the unsuitability of the terrain at Roncevaux for the kind of battle described. His articles demonstrate the contradictions and inconsistencies of the Oxford text and of other versions when viewed from this sole perspective. See D. J. A. Ross, “L’Originalité de ‘Turoldus’: le maniement de la lance,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 6 (1963): 127-38; “Gautier del Hum, An Historical Element in the Chanson de Roland?” Modern Language Review 61 (1966): 409–15; “Before Roland: What Happened 1200 Years Ago Next August 15?” Olifant 5 (1978): 171-90. Marcel Baiche recently used the unsuitability of the terrain at Roncevaux for the



military exploits described to propose an entirely different site for the battle, the pass at Siguer, a small town in the central Pyrenees, near Andorra. “1200 ans après, chaque chose a sa place: Charlemagne, L’Andoree et Roncevaux,” Occitan/Catalan Studies 1 (1980): 7–14. 3 The Song of Roland, An Analytical Edition, ed. Gerard J. Brault (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1978), vol. 2, Oxford Text and English Trans­ lation; hereafter cited as Brault. All line references to the Oxford Roland will be to this edition. 4 The Royal Frankish Annals report that Although the Franks were obviously their betters in arms and valor, they never­ theless suffered a defeat due to the unfavorable terrain and unequal method of fighting. In this engagement a great many officers of the palace, whom the king had given positions of command, were killed; the baggage was plundered, and the enemy was able to vanish in all directions because he knew the lay of the land. To have suffered this wound shadowed the king’s view of his success in Spain. (G. H. Pertz, MGH, Scriptores, vol. 1, p. 159. Quoted by Menéndez-Pidal, La chanson de Roland et la tradition épique des Francs, 2d. ed., trans. I.-M. Cluzel [Paris: Picard, 1960], p. 526) Written in all probability between 817 and 830, Einhard’s account incorporates and enlarges upon that of the RFA. In his Vita Karoli, Einhard reports that while Charlemagne was in the Pyrenean mountain range itself, he was given a taste of Basque treach­ ery. Dense forests, which stretch in all directions, make this spot most suitable for setting ambushes. At a moment when Charlemagne’s army was stretched out in a long column of march, as the nature of the local defiles forced it to be, these Basques, who had set their ambush on the very top of one of the mountains, came rushing down on the last part of the baggage train and the troops who were marching in support of the rearguard and so protecting the army which had gone on ahead. The Basques forced them down into the valley beneath, joined battle with them and killed them to the last man. They then snatched up the baggage, and, protected as they were by the cover of darkness, which was just beginning to fall, scattered in all directions without losing a moment. In this feat the Basques were helped by the lightness of their arms and by the nature of the terrain in which the battle was fought. On the other hand, the heavy nature of their own equipment and the unevenness of the ground completely hampered the Franks in their resistance to the Basques. In this battle died Eggihard, who was in charge of the king’s table, Anselm, the Count of the Palace and Roland, Lord of the Breton Marches, along with a great number of others. What is more, this assault could not be avenged there and then, for, once it was over, the enemy dispersed in such a way that no one knew where or among which people they could be found (chap. 9; Eginhard, Vita Karoli Magni Impera­toris, ed. L ouis Halphen [Paris: Champion, 1923], pp. 28–31)



5 Jeanne Vielliard, ed., Le Guide du Merin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, 4th ed.(Macon: Protat Frères, 1969); hereafter cited as Vielliard, Guide. 6 In era dcccxvi uenit Carlus rex ad Cesaraugusta. In his diebus habuit duodecim neptis, unusquisque habebat tria milia equitum cum loricis suis, nomina ex his Rodlane, Bertlane, Oggero spata curia, Ghigelmo alcorbitanas, Olibero et episcopo domini Torpini. Et unusquisque singulos menses serbiebat ad regem cum scolicis suis. Contigit ut regem cum suis ostis pausabit in Cesaraugusta; post aliquantu­lum temporis suis dederunt consilium ut munera acciperet multa, ne affamis peri­ret exercitum, sed a propriam rediret, quod factum est. Diende placuit ad regem pro salutem hominum exercituum ut Rodlane belligerator fortis cum suis pos­terum ueniret. At ubi exercitum portum de Sicera transiret in Rozaballes a genti­bus sarrazenorum fuit Rodlane occiso. (Martin de Riquer, Les chansons de geste francaises, 2d. ed., trans. I.-M. Cluzel [Paris: Nizet, 1957], p. 71) 7 Elie Lambert, “Roncevaux et ses monuments,” Romania 61 (1935): 34-35. The do­ nation may have been a forgery, but the point remains that Roncevaux was consid­ ered an important enough site to have either been desired by the monks of Conques or thought of as an appropriate donation for them. 8 Lambert’s translation of the relevant lines of the poem: L’évêque Sanche promoteur de cette oeuvre, fonda en l’honneur de la Vierge Mère de Dieu au pied de la plus haute montagne dans les Pyrénées un hôpital pour le salut des pèlerins. Quand ce prélat de Pampelune fonda cet hôpital dans les monts immenses, it fut très largement aidé dans ces dépenses par l’illustre roi d’Aragon Alphonse…. [C]e fut en l’an de l’Ere mille cent soixante-dix [1132] que com­mença l’édification de cet hôpital qui sert d’abri à ceux qui suivent la route…. (Lambert, “Roncevaux et ses monuments,” p. 20) 9 Ibid., pp. 20–21. 10 For the text of the charter, see Lambert, “Roncevaux et ses monuments,” p. 30. 11 Vielliard, Guide, chap. 3, p. 6. 12 Rita Lejeune, “Le Mont-Saint-Michel-au-Péril-de-la-Mer, La Chanson de Roland, et le Pèlerinage de Compostelle,” Millénaire monastique du Mont-Saint-Michel, vol. 2 (Paris: Le Thielleux, 1967), pp. 411-33. 13 We may gain some idea as to just how powerful a sacred aura hung over the Cize from the fact that it was considered the highest mountain in the Pyrenees until 1832, when the Pic d’Anéto, quite far to the east, was officially identified as the highest peak in the chain. The tallest summit near Roncevaux is 1,570 meters, less than half the height of the Pic d’Anéto. See Les Pyrénées, ed. François Taillefer (Toulouse: Privat, 1974), p. 314. 14 Vielliard, Guide, p. 24, and also for the next quotation. 15 Lambert, “Roncevaux et ses monuments,” pp. 32-33. 16 Vielliard, Guide, p. 24. 17 Ibid., p. 26. Note that “potentissimus” possessed sacred rather than militaristic con­ notations at this time. See Hippolyte Delehaye, Sanctus: essai sur le culte des saints dans l’antiquité (Brussels: Bollandistes, 1927), chap. 1, “Le vocabulaire de la sain­teté.” 18 Vielliard, Guide, p. 26.



19 See Alphonse Didron, Christian Iconography (New York: Ungar, 1968), pp. 178-87. On the dedication of rocks and high places to Saint Michael, see ibid., pp. 181-82. 20 “Hic tanta fortitudine repletus fuit, quod petronum quemdam ut fertur, in Runcia­ valle, a summo usque deorsum, sua framea per medium, trino ictu scilicet, scidit, et tubam sonando, oris sui vento similiter per medium divisit. Tuba vero eburnea sci­licet scissa aput Burdegalem urbem, in basilica Beati Severini habetur, et super petronum in Runciavalle quedam ecclesia fabricatur.” Vielliard, Guide, p. 78. 21 Ibid., pp. 78, 80. 22 Brault, Song of Roland, vol. 1, p. 62. 23 Lambert, “Roncevaux et ses monuments,” p. 40. Lambert gives other legends of this sort as well, p. 41ff. 24 Marcel Durliat, “Pèlerinages et architecture romane,” Les dossiers de l’architecture 20 (jan–Feb. 1977), p. 24. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid., p. 25. 28 This fascinating text—a sermon preached by a monk named Garsias around 1064—describes the symbolic relationships of the different parts of the rebuilt abbey at Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa. In effect, this commentary offers a hermeneutics of site where, for example, the towers dedicated to Saint Michael are seen as protecting the part of the church dedicated to the Virgin and in which the grotto at Bethlehem is roughly reproduced. A living tableau of Revelation is clearly suggested by the text: & disposite in sanctum Domini opus a foris super reverenda martyrum Valentini, Flamidiani, atque confessoris Nazarii corpora ad locum nunc condigne venerantur, pulchro & arcuato opere beatae genitricis Mariae & archangelorum Dei in crypta quae ad praesepium dicitur extruxit Ecclesiam, ita ut ex utroque virginis latere summi Dei angeli tantae Dei matris gloriam laudibus sive meritis in obsequium novae salutationis a dextris eius Gabriel conceptum partus nuntiet, ac a sinistris virginalis gloriae plenitudinem splendidus Raphael affirmet. Ad pedes etiam seu in sinu causa famulatus circumsepsit, & hinc inde martyres sepelivit, qui de se vel languentium salute dicerent: Ecce iste Deus, fortitudo nostra. A facie autem Reginae, ut est terribilis ac divinus Michael, tamquam ad tuitionem sui filium ante tempora natum fidelibus & omnibus ad se venientibus assignavit dicens: Invenietis infantem pannis involutum & positum in praesepio. Ergo ut altitonanti decentia in verae fidei confessione domus possideret maternum partus…. [[And], for the Lord’s holy work, from the entrance over the reverend bodies of the martyrs Valentinus, Flamidianus, and Nazarius the confessor, at the place where now they are most worthily venerated, over the vault, he constructed a church of the Blessed Mother Mary and the archangels of God, which is called The Manger, in such a way that from each side of the Virgin the most exalted angels of God announce the glory of the great mother of God for her praises or for her merits; on the right, Gabriel heralds the offspring conceived in obedience to his novel greet­ing, and on the left a brilliant Raphael declares the fulness of her maidenly glory. At her feet, or in her bosom, he surrounded her with the martyrs, buried



here and there for the sake of their service, who say concerning themselves or for the sal­vation of the weak: Behold God, our strength. Facing the Queen is Michael, as he is, dreadful and prophetic, as if for her protection, and he points out the son too soon born to the faithful and to all coming to him, saying: “You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger.” Therefore, in order that a house fitting to the one thundering on high in acknowledgement of the true faith might hold the Mother’s Son. . . .1 This section of the text was translated for this book by Ronald Pepin, Greater Hartford Community College. (Appendix 222 of Pierre de Marca, Marca Hispanica, ed. Etienne Baluze [Paris: Toulouse, 1688], col. 1080. The entire text of the sermon runs from col. 1072 to 1082) 29 The dates are Durliat’s. Olivier Beigbeder, Forez-Velay Roman (Paris: Zodiaque, 1962), says that the first stone of the shrine of Saint Michael was laid in 962 and that the dedication took place in 972. Like Durliat, he credits Bishop Godescalc with having brought back the cult of Saint Michael from his pilgrimage to Compostela. “Or saint Michel était le protecteur des soldats luttant contre les Arabes” (p. 91). 30 To choose Saint Michael meant choosing his text, Revelation. One of the enormously popular texts in tenth-century Spain was the commentary on Apocalypse by Beatus of Liebana, a Spanish monk who died in 798, and whose tremendously influential work was certainly completed in its first form by 776. Influenced by earlier commen­tators on Apocalypse, especially Saint Augustine in book 20 of his De Civitate Dei, Beatus saw in the eighth-century incursion of the Moslems in Spain ample proof of Augustine’s notion that Apocalypse is now The beast from the abyss is the Saracens and persecutors of the Church. Commenting on the vision of the woman in the sky, he says that she is the Church (6.2.1). The dragon is the devil and his pseudoprophets attacking the Church and precipitating society into Gehenna. For Beatus, a scriptural text like Revelation is a symbol to be commented in terms of human history: the struggle between the forces of the devil and of the Logos. He interprets Antichrist as the overseer of three kings: the king of Egypt, the king of. Africa, and the king of Ethiopia (6.2.16). The male child born of the woman is male because he must be strong for combat (“fortem ad pugnandum”). Many other glosses might be cited as pertinent to our concerns both with texts and sacred sites. Beati in Apocalipsin, Libri Duodecim, ed. Henry A. Sanders (Rome: American Academy, 1930). 31 Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi, ed. C. Meredith-Jones (Paris: Droz, 1936), p. 173. 32 Ibid., p. 171. 33 Fern Farnham, “Romanesque Design in the Song of Roland,” Romance Philology 18 (1964–65): 143–64. Charles F. Altman, “Interpreting Romanesque Narrative: Con­ ques and the Roland,” Olifant 5 (1977): 4–28. 34 Marcel Durliat, “Les crénelages du clocher-porche de Moissac et leur restauration par Viollet-le-Duc,” Annales du Midi 78, no. 77–78 (Apr.–July 1966): 433–47, and in particular, p. 440. In a letter dated 10 February 1979, M. Durliat assured me that “le personnage sculpté sonnant de l’olifant est bien une sculpture authentique du xiie siècle. C’est d’ailleurs un des éléments sur lequel s’est appuyé Viollet-le-Duc pour



justifier sa représentation des crénelages du porche de Moissac.” 35 Altman has shown how “the juxtaposition of similar formal elements creates a con­ text within which differences are highlighted. The use of repeated detail, designed to reinforce a notion of dual segmentation and to induce comparison of the paired subsegments, depends on a process which we might call intratextual rewriting, whereby the material of one scene or line is reused in a corresponding location.” “Interpreting Romanesque Narrative: Conques and the Roland,” Olifant 5 (1977): 19. Linda Seidel also equates form and theme in comparing Aquitainian church façades and the Chanson de Roland in chapter 3 of her book Songs of Glory (Chicago: Univ. of Chi­cago Press, 1981). 36 The horn scenes that punctuate the second part of the battle are the best known ones, laisses 128–35, and another in laisse 156, too often ignored, which precipitates the final rout of the Saracens from the battlefield and initiates the last phase of Roland’s combat, the death of Turpin, and Roland’s own death scene. 37 “But men can ask questions, so that they may clearly see the invisible things of God, ‘being understood by the things that are made’…. Nor do things answer men who ask unless they are men of judgment. They do not change their voice…when one man merely looks at them and another both looks and questions, so as to appear one thing to this man, another to that…. Rh speaks to all, but only those understand who compare its voice taken in from outside with the truth within them.” Confes­sions, bk. 10, chap. 6 (para. 10), trans. John K. Ryan (New York: Doubleday, 1960), p. 235. Augustine’s point is that looking and questioning without struggling for an an­swer from within simply do not aid humans in rising above the level of historical and material contingency. Only the kind of agonistic looking and seeing, as described in our first chapter, results in understanding, in “spiritual seeing.” Roland will reach this level, but not until later. 38 Brault, vol. 1, pp. 180-81. 39 We may find the fallacy in Oliver’s reasoning explained by Augustine in chapter 4, book 19 of De Civitate Dei. Oliver urges prudence, but Augustine points out that while prudence teaches us to recognize evil, it does nothing to remove it. What shall I say of that virtue which is called prudence? Is not all vigilance spent in the discernment of good from evil things, so that no mistake may be admitted about what we should desire and what avoid? And this it is itself a proof that we are in the midst of evils, or that evils are in us; for it teaches us that it is an evil to consent to sin, and a good to refuse to consent. And yet this evil to which prudence teaches and temperance enables us not to consent, is removed from this life neither by prudence nor by temperance. (Saint Augustin, The City of God, vol. 2, trans. and ed. Marcus Dods [New York: Hafner, 1948], p. 304) 40 See chap. 1, pp. 12-13. 41 Johannes Scotus Eriugena, Homélie sur le prologue de jean, ed. and trans. Edouard Jeauneau (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1969), chap. 1. Also, Rodolphus Glaber, His­ toriae, 1. 1. 42 Lines 1077–81 (quoted above) and other passages in this scene illustrate the extent to which Roland remains very much attached to things of this world—particularly the joy of combat—at this juncture. John 12 : 25–28, a classic text on the incompat­



ibility of renunciation and love of things in the world—for their own sake—demon­ strates the mistake Roland continues to make at this juncture, and which obscures his understanding of the kind of renunciation required. Anyone who loves his life loses it. Anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If a man serves me, he must follow me; wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honor him. Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say: Father save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour. (John 12 : 25–28) 43 Walter Ong, “Maranatha: Death and Life in the Text of the Book,” in his Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 232. 44 Brault, vol. 1, p. 198. 45 Early medieval commentaries on Revelation linked the function of witness to the Passion context in a manner cogent for our discussion. In Revelation 11: 3–4, the Voice like a trumpet tells John: “I shall send my two witnesses to prophesy (in the holy city) for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and two lamps that stand before the Lord of the World. Fire can come from their mouths and consume their enemies if anyone tries to harm them….” Beatus of Liebana equates the two witnesses with the Law and the Gospel (“lex et evangelium,” 5.11.2), which govern the time between the Passion of Christ and the coming of the Antichrist: “id est, lex et evangelium a Domini passione usque ad antichristum…haec omne tempus est a passione Domini usque ad antichristum” (5.11.2 and 4). The witnesses are also Christians and martyrs (5.11.5): “Qui sunt enim testes domini nisi Christiani? Qui Graece dicuntur martyres, hoc Latini testes, quia in passione testimonium Christo reddent. Non dixit, faciam mihi testes, quasi modo non sint, sed dabo duobus testibus meis. Hic presentibus dixit, legi et evange­lio….” These witnesses suffer the persecution of the beast, are humiliated and killed, and after three and a half days are then called to heaven (Revelation 11: 11–12). Finally, apropos of the earthquake in laisse 110, Beatus identifies the earthquake of Revelation with persecution, a recapitulation of the coming of God (5.13.12): “id est persecution; recapitulatio est enim, sicut iam diximus, in adventum Domini. In illa hora qui in tecto est, non descendat tollere quicquam de domo” (Matthew 24: 17). (13): “hora est enim omne tempus.” Beati in Apocalipsin, ed. Sanders, pp. 445–46. 46 Claude Buridant, ed., La Traduction du Pseudo-Turpin du manuscrit Vatican Regina 624 (Geneva: Droz, 1976), p. 122. 47 Ibid. 48 Although, then, our present life is afflicted, sometimes in a milder, sometimes in a more painful degree, by the death of those very dear to us, & especially of useful public men, yet we would prefer to hear that such men were dead rather than to hear or perceive that they had fallen from the faith, or from virtue—in other words, that they were spiritually dead. Of this vast material for misery the earth is full, and therefore it is written, “Is not human life upon earth a trial?” (Job 7: 1). (Saint Augustine, The City of God, 19. 8, trans. Dods, vol. 2, p. 312)



49 Confessions, 10. 28 (para. 39), trans. Ryan, p. 255. 50 “Par les set aungeles, ki se aparilierent a soner lur busines, sunt entenduz tuz les mestres de Seinte Eglise, ki serrunt treske a la fin. Par les busines, la science de lur aprise. Par le chaunt des busines, lur prechement. . . .” Apocalypse Anglo-Nor­mande, ed. Yorio Otaka and Hideka Fekui (Osaka: Centre de Recherches Anglo-Nor­mandes, 1977), chap. 8, p. 192. 51 Brault, vol. 1, p. 216. 52 Apocalypse Anglo-Normande, ed. Otake and Fekui, chap. 1, p. 184.53 Joachim of Flora’s Expositio in Apocalypsim works this out in a most detailed man­ner in the twelfth century, although the concept goes back at least as far as Augus­tine’s exposition on the ages of the world, and Beatus of Liebana’s commentary on Apocalypse equates Antichrist with successive Saracen princes and contemporary oppression of the faithful in the West: Joachim’s analogies are most instructive in terms of the questions that concern us. Ensuite, si nous passons au second temps placé sous l’autorité du Fils…nous trouvons ceci: le premier temps date de Zacherie, père de Jean-Baptiste, et dura jusqu’à la mort de saint Jean l’Evangéliste; le second va jusqu’à Constantin; le troisième va jusqu’à Justinien; le quatrième va jusqu’à Charlemagne, empereur, qui \récut aux jours du pape Zacharie. De ce moment date le début du cinquième temps qui dura jusqu’à l’heure présente. . Et comme, dans cette même période du premier état, les Assyriens et les Macédoniens écrasèrent les Juifs, nous voyons aujourd’hui les Sarrazins attaquer la chrétienté, et nous verrons bientôt surgir les faux prophètes qui doivent suivre ces fauteurs de désastres…. (Joachim de Flore, Expositio in Apocalipsim, chap. 5. Quoted from L’Evangile éternel, vol. 2, trans. Emmanuel Aegerter [Paris: Rieder, 1928], pp. 105, 106) 54 In the language of the Vulgate, these verses appear as follows: “[Glum coeperit clan­ gere buccina, tunc ascendant in montem” (19:13). “Iamque advenerat tertius dies, et mane inclaruerat: et ecce coeperunt audiri tonitrua ac micare fulgura, et nubes den­ sissima operite montem, clangorque buccinae vehementius perstrepebat: et timuit populis qui erat in castris. Cumque eduxisset eos Moyses in occursum Dei de loco castrorum steterunt ad radices montis” (19:16-17). 55 Luke 1: 68–71: “Benedictus Dominus Israel, quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suae: et erexit cornu salutis nobis: in domo David pueri sui. Sicut locutus est per os sanctorum, qui a saeculo sunt, prophetarum eius: Salutem ex inimicis nostris, et de manu omnium qui oderunt nos.” As a liturgical text, and therefore often recited, the Benedictus was a particularly well-known passage. 56 Gertrud Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1972), vol. .1, p. 146. 57 Ibid., vol. 2, p. 4. 58 Revelation 1:10: “…et audivi post me vocem magnam tamquam tubae….” (12): “Et conversus sum ut viderem vocem, quae loquebatur mecum….” (16): “[E]t ha­bebat in dextera sua stellas septem: et de ore eius gladius utraque parte acutus exi­bat: et facies eius sicut sol lucet in virtute sua.” 59 Laisse 110 reinforces this intertextuality by toponymic reference. Lines 1428–



29 name the cardinal points of the Kingdom of France affected by the apocalyptic manifesta­ tions. The premier locus cited is Saint Michel del Peril, a sanctuary commemorating the text-event of Revelation. Whether this Saint Michel was the Norman shrine or Saint Michel-de-Cize, on the opposite side of the mountain from Roncevaux—as Rita Lejeune recently argued with impressive evidence (article cited above, n. 12)—the sense is clear. “co est li granz dulors por la mort de Rollant” is an assertion of the correlation of Roland’s passion with the corpus of Scripture by which the signifi­cance of historical events was established. 60 Frederick Golden, The Song of Roland (New York: Norton, 1978), p. 102. 61 As more space is devoted to describing Roland’s effort in blowing the horn, less space need be given to the actual horn sound. The first four lines do not simply describe Roland’s effort; they demonstrate the force of the blast by the effect produced on him. This ability of the narrative to signify reciprocally characterizes the horn se­quence at all levels. 62 Brault, vol. 1, p. 427, n. 20. 63 Eugene Vance, Reading the Song of Roland (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1970), pp. 32–33. 64 The Clermont-Ferrand Passion links the betrayal of Christ to the fear and envy of two categories of opponent: a group of nonbelievers (Jews) and a single, apostate believer (Judas) from within Christ’s immediate circle (sts. 20–21). In the same man­ ner, the Roland ascribes his betrayal to the fear and envy of two categories of oppo­ nent: a group of nonbelievers (Saracens) and a single, apostate believer (Ganelon) from Charlemagne and Roland’s immediate circle. 65 Saint Augustine, De Civitate Dei, 20. 9, trans. Dods, vol. 2, pp. 366–67. 66 Saint Augustine, Confessions, 10. 3 (para. 3): “But because ‘Charity believes all things’ (1 Corinthians 13: 7) among them whom it unites by binding them to itself, I too, 0 Lord, will confess to you in such a manner that men may hear, although I cannot prove to you that I confess truly. But those men whose ears charity opens to me believe me.” Trans. Ryan, p. 230. 67 The Clermont-Ferrand Passion specifically linksthe parodic role of Judas in the Last Supper and his self-excluding speech act: De pan et yin sactificat toz sos fidels i saciet, mais que Judas Escharioh cui una sopa enflet lo cor:


Judas cum og manjed k sopa, diable sen enz en sa gola; semper leved del piu manjar, tot als Judeus o vai nuncer.


68 For a recent study of dreams in the chansons de geste, see Herman Braet, Le songe dans la chanson de geste au XIIe siècle, Romanica Gandiensia, vol. 15 (Ghent, 1975), especially chap. 4, “Le langage des songes.” For the dream as chant in the Roland, see my article, “The Generative Function of Chant and Récit in Old French Epic,” Olifant



6 (Spring/Summer 19791: 305–25. 69 Braet, Le songe dans la chanson de geste,” pp. 114–15. Cf. Romans 1: 20: “Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity—however invisible—have been there for the mind to see in the things He has made.” 70 René Louis, “La grande douleur pour la mort de Roland,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 3 (1960): 62–67. 71 On this subject, see Gérard Genette, “Frontières du récit,” Communications 8 (1966): 152–63, and Introduction a l’architexte (Paris: Seuil, 1979). 72 Confessions, 11. 29 (para. 39), trans. Ryan, p. 302. Sed quoniam melior est misericordia tua super vitas, ecce distentio est vita mea, et me suscepit dextera tua in domino meo, mediatore filio hominis inter to unum et nos multos, in multis per multa, ut per eum adprehendam, in quo et adprehen­sus sum, et a veteribus diebus colligar sequens unum, praeterita oblitus, non in ea quae futura et transitura sunt, sed in ea quae ante sunt non distentus, sed exten­tus, non secundum intentionem sequor ad palmam supernae vocationis, ubi au­diam vocem laudis et contempler delectationem tuam nec venientem nec praeter­euntem. (S. Augustini Confessionum, Loeb Edition [New York: Macmillan, 1912], pp. 278, 280) 73 As Umberto Eco has shown, the reflecting on the sign postulated by the interpretant opens up a vast array of possible meanings for the text. At this stage the work be­comes a cultural unit with an unlimited number of possible uses and meanings. In a very real sense, this reciprocal exchange between text production and cultural artifact has been the main field of inquiry of the present book. It has sought to show how a number of different and initially separate sign systems became mutually re­lated by “the continual shiftings and alignments of cultural units via the function of interpretants. Culture continually translates signs into other signs, and definitions into other definitions….” See U. Eco, A Theory of Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), pp. 68–72. 74 Like Christ in his rhetorical manifestation as Anakephalaiosis, or Recapitulation (Ephesus 1: 10, glossed by Kittel as “to sum up,” “to give a comprehensive sum”), the hero becomes the subject/Subject of his own story. Anakephalaiosis was the rhetorical model for uniting historical and anagogic signification in a biography, once Saint Paul had argued that Christ was the Recapitulation of human and divine his­tory. In its analogical usage, anakephalaiosis becomes a symbolic assumption by the hero of his own story in his own words, a predication of life as logos. In short, a symbolic recapitulation of the way in which the unity of language and the unity of divine intention (“sacramentum voluntatis suae,” Ephesus 1: 9), can correlate in story/history. 75 For an excellent recent study, see Evelyn Birge Vitz, “La Vie de Saint Alexis: Narra­ tive Analysis and the Quest for a Sacred Subject,” PMLA 93 (1978): 396-408. See also the first chapter of Karl Uitti, Story, Myth and Celebration in Old French Nar­rative Poetry, 1050-1200 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973). 76 La Vie de Saint Alexis, ed. Christopher Storey (Geneva: Droz, 1968). 77 The circularity of confirmation evident here is that of the relic and the reliquary transposed to the level of word and Logos. The Vie as text mediates and presents the



chartre as authentic saintly word, just as the figural reliquaries of the tenth and eleventh centuries or the arm and bust reliquaries of Charlemagne and other saints represented the whole body of which they contained only a part, but part sufficient, by the mystery of God’s grace, to bestow the whole saintly virtue on those who prayed before the statue of Sainte Foy at Conques. 78 The change in physical setting corresponds with a change in register in the récit, particularly remarkable in the higher incidence of discourse, entailing a resultant change in the mix of discourse and narrative. As a result, we find a greater emphasis on the present tense and on the immediacy of “action,” since word becomes, in a real sense, act. 79 The association of Christ with hilltops came to be something of a topos in artistic representations. This tendency dates from a rather early period, for all of the exterior scenes in the twelve scenes from the life of Christ depicted in the seventh-century Gospel Book of Saint Augustine show Christ on a hilltop, often with two trees (ty­ pologically equated with witnesses; see n. 45 above). These scenes are from an illu­ mination in the Saint Augustine Gospel (Northern Italy, seventh century): Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 286, fol. 129v. 80 On the textual authority of Revelation 11: 3-4, the two trees may symbolize the two witnesses of Crucifixion scenes. Beatus of Liebana glosses the trees/witnesses as “lex et evangelium” (Bead in Apocalipsin, 5.11.2, ed. Sanders). 81 Marble pillars at martyr sites is a well-attested sign in Christian archaeology. Wor­ shipers practiced commemorative oblation on the death sites of martyr and confes­sor saints from an early period. See Le Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 12, s.v. “Autel.” 82 John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels (London: SPCK, 1971), p. 181. See the Corpus Chris­tianorum, vol. 175, pp. 94-103, and Migne, PL 173. 1115–34. Epilogue 1 Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, translated by Robert M. Wallace (Cam­bridge: MIT Press, 1983), p. 77. 2 Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and its Art Treasures. Edited, translated and annotated by Erwin Panofsky, second edition by Gerda Panofsky-Soergel (Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1979), p. 41. 3 «Il est dans la destinée du Moyen Age de suggérer aux modernes des idées fausses.» Albert Pauphilet, Le legs du Moyen Age: Etudes de littérature médiévale (Melun: Librairie d’Ar­gences, 1950), p. 23. 4 “Je vous ai quelquefois parlé de l’architecture romane. C’est un mot de ma façon qui me paraît heureusement inventé pour remplacer les mots insig­nifiants de saxonne et de normande. Tout le monde convient que cette archi­tecture lourde et grossière, est l’opus romanorum dénaturé ou successivement dégradé par nos rudes ancêtres. Alors aussi, de la langue latine, également estropiée, se faisait cette langue romane dont l’origine et la dégradation ont tant d’analogie avec l’origine et le progrès de l’architecture.» F. S. Gidon, «L’invention de l’expression architecture romane par Gerville (1818),» Bulletin de la Société des Antiquaires de Normandie 42 (1934), pp. 268-88. 5 Thomas Castle, An Introduction to Systematical and Physiological Botany (London:



E. Cox, 1829), p. 4. 6 Ibid., p. 7. 7 Ibid., p. 11. 8 “Ces distributions systématiques ne doivent être regardées que comme des tables raisonnées dans lesquelles les plantes sont disposées arbitrairement et suivant des signes de convention propres à les faire aisément reconnoître en attendant qu’on puisse leur assigner leur véritable lieu dans l’ordre de la Nature ... le seul digne de faire l’objet de la science.” Antonii Laurentii de Jussieu, Genera Plantarum secundum Ordines Naturales Disposita, Juxta Methodism in Horto Regio Parisiensi Exaratam, Anno M.DCC. LXXIV (Paris: Apud Viduam Her­rissant, 1789), p. 6. 9 “Il en résulte, pour le Botaniste, la nécessité de connoître d’une part tous les organes dont les plantes sont munies, et de l’autre toutes les modifications de chaque organe, c’est-à-dire, tous les caractères qui distinguent les plantes.” Ibid., p. 5. 10 “L’existence de ces groupes ne peut être révoquée en doute; elle est incon­testablement démontrée par ces ressemblances qui non seulement réunissent plusieurs espèces de plantes dans des différents genres, mais qui ras­semblent encore, dans un même ordre, plusieurs genres différents d’une manière si évidente.” Ibid., p.12. 11 “Les Botanistes ont été quelquefois obligés d’abandonner jusqu’aux caractères principaux de leur classification [artificielle], pour ne pas éloigner des espèces ou des genres que la Nature elle-même les forçoit de réunir.” Ibid., p. 12. 12 E. H. Gombrich, “Image and Code: Scope and Limits of Conventionalism in Pictorial Rep­resentation,” in The Image and the Eye: Further Studies in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, 278-97 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982), p. 278. 13 Castle, op. cit., p. 3. 14 Ibid., p. 3. 15 Both quotations from Castle, p. xv. 16 Gerville, too, would have used scientific Latin in pursuit of his botanical studies, as was customary at the time. His condescension towards medieval Latin (également estropiée) undoubtedly arose from the divergence between the exacting standards of Neo-Latin to which he was accustomed and the much more uneven patterns of the earlier period. 17 “Ainsi, ayant observé que l’espèce est la collection des individus absolument semblables, il a ajouté que, pour suivre la marche de la Nature dans le rapprochement des espèces, il faut joindre celles qui se ressemblent par le plus grand nombre de leurs caractères, et il prouve la vérité de ce principe par l’examen de plusieurs genres très naturels et généralement avoués. Cette analyse offrant en outre des caractères plus constants et d’autres qui le sont moins, donne lieu à l’énoncé d’un autre principe : savoir, que les caractères doivent être pesés ou calculés suivant leur valeur relative, de sorte qu’un caractère constant équivaut à plusieurs caractères variables. Ces deux principes réunis forment, selon l’Auteur, la base principale de la méthode naturelle, et donnent la mesure des affinités existantes.” Jussieu (1789), op. cit., pp. 6-7. 18 Ibid., p. 6. 19 Ibid., p. 4. 20 Castle (1829), op. cit., p. 3.



21 Gerville’s conception of the Romance vernacular as debased Latin accords with neoclassical language theories espoused by Pasquier, Voltaire, Marmontel, as adopted by François Raynouard (1761-1836). They conceived of Provençal as “le langage roman ou roumain corrompu,” a theory finally rejected by the founder of Romance philology, Friedrich Diez (1794-1876), who “taught that all Romance languages were independent developments of Latin.” E. R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, translated by Willard R. Trask New York: Pantheon, 1953), pp. 30-35. 22 Vitruvius, an architect and engineer who lived in the first century B.C.E., is best known for his treatise The Ten Books of Architecture (De architectura libri decem), dedicated to the Emperor Augustus. Vitruvius held that architecture should imitate nature, particularly the most perfectly proportioned natural creation: the human body. All buildings should thus be designed in proportion to an ideal scale based on the human body. Vitruvius’s De architectura influenced Renaissance thinkers, particularly the fifteenth-century painter Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72), generally credited with the invention of perspective in painting. Vitruvius described the human body superposed on a circle and a square as the universal geometric pattern underlying the cosmic order. This concept of symmetry and order became know as “Vitruvian man.” Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452-1519) drawing, Vitruvian Man, has been the best-known symbol of Vitruvian symmetry since the Renaissance. 23 From the homepage of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. Today, the site occupies “a beautiful forty-eight acre site on the banks of the Tolka River, and contains over 20,000 different plant species…There are some lovely trees, many outstanding displays of shrubs…and of course the famous glasshouses...” http://www.irelandseye. com/aarticles/travel/attractions/gardens/glasnevn.shtm 24 Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, op. cit., p. 355. 25 Curtius, European Literature…, p. 128. 26 Performative mimesis contributed to this creative dynamism through its ability to link history and theology by means of figural interpretation. Figural hermeneutics casts historical events in numinous terms by claiming a dual perspective for them. When viewed literally, as contingent events they constitute a record or chronicle. When the same sequence is viewed as a segment, or a link in a chain of events unfolding from a foundational event, it could be transformed into a prophetic pattern symbolically portrayed as divine intention. Figural hermeneutics reverses temporal order so that a later event takes precedence over an earlier one. In figural logic, the earlier incident prefigures or prophesies a later occurrence now perceived as fulfillment of the prophecy. The belated event is not simply an iconic or typological representation of its prophetic predecessor, it “performs” the prophesy within history. It is thus image and narrative, a dynamic instance of divine intervention in history. See Nichols, “Contingency and Post-Figural Historiography in the French Restoration, 1815-1830,” MLN 124 (2009), p. 779-780. 27 “It is historically true that the image is constantly subject to historical appropriation by major collocations of power elsewhere in the social formation; but that does not entail…a topological placing of power as always the image’s exterior, and of the image’s work of signification as dissocié, un autre langage, l’exercice d’une autre physiognomie. The topology is rather one of dynamic interaction of practices within the same



boundary, the same Möbius enclosure of the social formation. The practices of painting and of viewing involve a material work upon a material surface of signs coextensive with the society, not topologically abstracted outside it.” Norman Bryson, Vision and Painting: The Logic of the Gaze (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), p. 150. 28 See René Merlet et l’Abbé Clerval, Un manuscript chartrain du XIe siècle (Chartres: Imprimérie Garnier, 1893). 29 For examples of non-monumental use of Roman architecture (e.g. the triumphal arch) in the pre-Romanesque period, see André Grabar, “Observations sur l’arc de triomphe de la croix dit arc d’Éginhard et sur d’autres bases de la croix,” Cahiers Archéologiques 27 (1978), pp. 61-83; and Karl Hauck, ed. Das Einhardkreuz: Vorträge und Studien der Münsteraner Diskussion zum arcu Einhardi, Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttinggen, Philologisch-Historiische Klasse, dritte Reihe, no. 87 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1974). 30 Erich Auerbach identified sermo humilis as the realism or ordinary language characteristic of Christ’s speech in the New Testament and that Christian doctrine introduced into Latin literature. In place of the artificial distinction of high and low styles, Christian writing used the language of Christ, conceived as the common language of the people. “The true heart of the Christian doctrine—Incarnation and Passion— was…totally incompatible with the principle of the separation of styles. Christ had not come as hero and king but as a human being of the lowest social station. His first disciples were fisherman and artisans; he moved in the everyday milieu of the humble folk of Palestine; he talked with publicans and fallen women, the poor and the sick and children. Nevertheless, all that he did and said was of the highest and deepest dignity, more significant than anything else in the world…” Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 72. 31 Aedicula—the diminutive of Latin aedis/aedes a small house or temple—referred to a small shrine in Roman religion. Aediculae were often found in domestic settings as shrines to a family’s household gods. Since the aedicule covers a wide range of religiously inflected architecture, it tells us much about the social role of ecclesiastical architecture in different eras. How it is used in given contexts determines its meaning. For a discussion of the aedicule and “aedicular interpretation” as a component of medieval ecclesiastical architecture, see John Summerson, “Heavenly Mansions: An Interpretation of Gothic,” in Heavenly Mansions and other Essays on Architecture (New York: Norton, 1963), pp. 1–28. 32 John James, The Contractors of Chartres, I (Chartres: Dooralong, 1978). 33 Ibid., p. 1. 34 Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, op. cit., p. 128. He continues: “An old school example is pratem ridet, ‘the meadow laughs.’ Human laughter is ‘transferred’ to nature” (128). It’s important to note here that that the translatio does not cancel the literal meaning of ‘meadow’ as a silent phenomenon of nature nor of laughter, as Aristotle notes, as uniquely human. Indeed, the force of the figure depends on momentarily overcoming literal meanings. 35 The tension between authoritative word and critical image does not simply mark seculo-ecclesiastical relations. It also increasingly defines movements within the church



itself from the eleventh century forward. Constable and Smith recently pointed out that “the period from the middle of the eleventh century to the end of the twelfth marked a turning point in the history of Christianity, and especially in the history of monasticism and other forms of religious life.” This movement gave rise to a critical literature within the church, such as the Libellus de Diversis Ordinibus et Professionibus Qui Sunt in Aecclesia and similar works. Constable, G., and B. Smith, eds.Libellus de Diversis Ordinibus et Professionibus Qui Sunt in Aecclesia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. xi.


Aachen, see Aix-la-Chapelle Aaron’s rod, 153 Abelard, Peter, 188 Abraham, 202 Acts of the Apostles (Actus Apostolorum), 4, 182. See also Bible, the Adalbert (canon at Aix-la-Chapelle), 76, 77 Adalbert, Saint, 245n12 Adémar de Chabannes, 33, 238n42, 238n43; and “invention” of Charle­ magne’s tomb, 75–77, 78, 81, 84, 88, 89–91, 92, 111 Agon: agonistic assertion of individuality (hero), 152; agonistic basis of historia, 37–38; agonistic narrative, 45, 48, 57, 60, 155; good vs. worldly, 37; man the subject of, 43, 44, 56–57, 156; narrative theosis as, 34–35, 57 Agonistic hermeneutics, see Hermeneu­ tics Aigoland (Saracen king), 152 Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), 82, 102, 143–44, 145, 149, 159, 196; Charlemagne reli­quary and tomb at, see Charlemagne; Jerusalem-RomeConstantinople axis, 80, 85, 89, 145; Palace School at, 93; Palatine Chapel at, 60, 75, 79–84 pas­sim, 90–92, 100, 106, 108, 120, 145; as “Second” Rome (Nova Roma), 23, 86, 235n15,246n26 Albigensians, 239n50 Alexandria, 82, 83 Alexis, Saint, 219–222, 225, 226 Allers, Rudolph, 14 Alphonso the Warlike, king of Navarre and Aragon, 170 Alsace: Charlemagne window in, 88 Altman, Charles, 181, 184 Alverson, Hoyt, 33 Ambigua (Maximus the Confessor), 17, 231n25

Anagogy, 21, 128, 132, 137; anogogic connotations of Roland setting, 167, 169, 177, 182, 195, 200–201, 205, 210; of Charlemagne iconography, 106, 112; of historia, 14, 147, 148; interrelationship of historic and anagogic elements, 79, 105, 117, 136, 137, 148, 156, 159, 165; of Last Judgment, 121; and narrative meaning, 112–113; as opposed to his­tory, 123, 129, 133, 151, 189; Rodol­phus’s concern with, 25, 47, 70; of Tur­pin’s life and text, 140 Anastasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem), 80, 84, 112, 119; Charle­magne’s association with, 74– 82, 147, 148; “copies” of, 85; destruction and re­construction of, 36, 46, 59, 81, 147, 235n11; Saint Helena’s discovery of, 75, 78, 80, 111; symbolism of, 75, 76, 77, 90. See also Jerusalem Andrew, Saint, 179 Angilbert, Saint, 120 Annunciation, the, 87, 133, 205 Anthropology, see Philosophical anthro­ pology Antichrist, 45, 46, 202, 233n42, 261n30, 263n45. See also Beast, the Apocalypse, the, 123, 150, 169, 179, 180; commentaries on, 35–36, 202, 204, 261n30, 264n53; as misreading, 45–55; symbolism in, 201, 202. See also Reve­lation Apocrypha, 33, 34, 183, 221 Architecture, ecclesiastical, 88, 93–94, 119–23; symbolism of, 79–80, 85– 86, 92, 93, 116–20, 181 Arculfus (Frankish pilgrim), 85 Aristotle, 68, 69 Ark of the Covenant, 77, 204 Arnoul, bishop of Orleans, 20, 21, 30, 31–33 Arras: Council of, 58, 71, 141; heresy trials in, 58, 76, 240n55



Ascension, the, see Christ “Ascent to the Law,” 3 Augmentative (or triune) aesthetic, 118– 23, 125, 130–31, 142, 160, 163, 165, 176 Augustine of Canterbury Saint, Gospel Book of, 267n79 Augustine, Saint, xi, 11, 50, 62, 187, 200, 210, 213, 262n39; on Apocalypse, 210, 261n30, 264n52; Confessions of, 44–45, 200, 216–217; and extensio, 226, 227; on theophany, 22, 50, 62 Aulae Sidereae (Eriugena), 97–98, 102, 103 Autun: theophanic tympanum at, 51, 53, 54, 94, 121, 135 Babel, Tower of, 142 Babylon: as “agent of Satan,” 46 Baldwin I, emperor of Constantinople, 72 Baligant, 201 Battle of Hastings, 257n1 Baudoin (brother of Roland), 163, 256n64 Bayeux Tapestry 257n1 Beast, the, 45, 46, 52, 54, 202. See also Antichrist Beatus of Liebana, 35, 204, 261n30, 263n45, 264n53, 267n80 Beaulieu: theophanic tympanum at, 48 Bédier, Joseph, 167, 168, 182–83 Benedict (monk, of Mount Soracte), 82, 83 Benedict VIII (pope), 37, 59, 60, 64 Benedictus, the, 203, 204 Biaxial narrative structure, 62, 107, 129, 131, 138, 143, 145, 146; Christ’s/ Gospel use of, 140–41 passim, 144, 145; 155; Rodolphus’s use of, 47–54, 59 Bible, the: Hebrew, 3, 5, 10, 206; historicity of, 2; horn imagery of, 186, 200–210, 263n45. See also Acts of the Apostles; Apocrypha; Gospel(s); Psalms; Revela­tion, Book of; Scripture

Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura, portrait of Charlemagne in, 97, 100 Bibliothèque Nationale, 104 Blancandrins, 209 Blanche of Castile, 109 Blaye: Roland’s tomb at, 173–76, 179 Bogomil heretics, 238n44. See also Heresy Boniface IV (pope), 85 Book of Holy Places (Peter the Deacon), 224 Bordeaux, 173–74, 179, 223 Brault, Gerard J., 196, 202, 208 Caesar, Julius, 2 Cambrai Gospels, 88. See also Gospel(s) Capetian dynasty, 5. See also Hugh Capet, king of France Carolingian dynasty, 1, 4, 5, 81, 144–45; po­litical philosophy and iconography of, 36–39, 64, 78, 83, 95, 100. See also Char­lemagne Cathar heretics, 238n44. See also Heresy Centula/Saint-Riquier (Norman abbey), 120, 122, 159 Cervon (Nievre), tympanum of, 83 Chanson(s) de geste, xii, xiii, 35, 51, 142, 167 Chanson de Roland, see Roland Charlemagne, 57, 62, 78, 142; canoni­zation of, 79, 100; capital of, 23, 235n15; conquest of Palestine and Spain by, see Palestine; Spain; coronation of, 65, 82, 83; Cross of, 173; “-in-Majesty” (Maies­tas Karoli Magni), 94, 97–98, 100–106; “invention” of tomb of, 71, 75–81, 84, 86, 87–92, 98, 106, 111; legend of, xii­, xiii, 6, 72–90 passim, 102–108, 111, 141, 142–48, 158, 161, 165–71 passim, 182; parallelism between Constantine and, 87–84, 85–86, 90, 93, 111, 147, 242n71; reliquary of, 63, 100–104, 141, 267n77; and revelation, 205–206; and Roland, 12, 63, 78, 87, 100–101, 107, 111, 166, 196–200, 206–225 passim (see


also Roland); Saint James and, 106, 108, 111, 140–45, 147, 166, 171; symbolic authority of, 83–84, 87–88, 92, 98–99, 100, 103, 104; “Valley of,” 161; windows commemorating, 106–117, 123, 127, 138, 149, 151, 155. See also Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) Charles II (the Bald), 65–66, 94–95, 99, 100, 105, 231n25 Charles III (the Fat), 4 Chartres: building programs at, 33–34, 124; as center of learning, 230n19; Gothic iconographic programs at, 103; Notre Dame de (Charlemagne window at), 104–114, 118, 122, 142, 153, 158, 161 Chenu, M. D., 1,10 Chernuble (Saracen peer), 192, 193–94 Cherubim, 184, 215, 227 Christ, 15; advent of, (as historical event), 11, (prophesied) 203; anagogic charac­teristics of, 119, 127, 129; as archetype of ideal man (homo eruditus), 38, 56; Ascension of, 22, 79, 131, 133, 154, 163; Conversation with Nicodemus, 133, 136, 137, 156–57, 158, 199; as corner­stone, 29; Crucifixion of, 79, 116, 123, 126–27, 203, 222, 267n80; dual value of, 57, 130, 132; dual vision of, 138–144; image(s) of, 25–26, 27, 39, 48, 57, 60; and imitatio Christi, 11, 30, 32, 38, 87, 134, 141; impersonator of (christomimetes), 56, 57, 66, 68, 69, 70, 134; as Incarnation of the Word, 10, 11, 22, 30, 79, 107, 152, 184; Jerusalem link, 22, 166; “-in-Majesty” (Maiestas Dom­ini), 64, 63, 95–97, 98–100, 102, 106–107; and martyr Christi, 175, 176, 223; as Messiah, 137, 203; and miles Christi, 148, 151, 226; Nativity of, 79, 87, 163; as Pantokrator (Christ-king), 96, 104; Passion of, see Passion story; as prophet/leader, 30; as protector, 202; as Recapitulation, 135–42, 266n74; relics of, 82, 110,


120, 210; Resurrection of, 22, 79, 87– 88, 117, 121, 133, 152, 154, 155, 196, 203, 216, 223; Revelation of, as Logos, 17, 117, 179; “royal ances­tors” of, 91; symbols of, 66, 94, 104, 109 (see also Symbols and symbolism); tomb of, see Anastasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem); Transfigu­ration of, 17–18, 22, 45, 203, 205 Christe, Yves, 8, 231n25 Christianity: and Christian imperium, 6, 18, 109, 142; and death as transition, 221 (see also Death); Jews’ view of, 239n48; menace to, 46 (see also Heresy); New Alliance of God with, 6, 24, 78, 82, 97; principal symbol of, 119 (see also Sym­bols and symbolism); reception of Rev­elation by, 2–3; Roland’s explanation of, 154–57 Christian Platonism, 2, 8, 156; and Neo­platonism, 6, 14, 32–33, 249n7 Chronicle of Vezelay, 171–72 Chronicles (Froissart), 54–55 Chronicon Centulense (Hariulf), 110 Chronique Saintongeaise, 86, 105 Church, the, xi, 17; and heresy, 44, 45– 46 (see also Heresy); individual separated from, 47; modern history of, 43; and Throne, 3, 18, 19, 46, 98–99, 103–04, 155. See also Christianity; Logos Church Militant, 202 Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem), see Anastasis Circumcision, 2–3 Clausewitz, Karl von, 168 Clement of Alexandria, Saint, 164 Clermont-Ferrand text, see Passion story Climborin, 209 Clovis, king of the Franks, 3, 4–5, 78, 96, 145 Cluny, 8 Codex Calixtinus, 145, 254n49 Color: symbolism of, see Symbolism “Commemorative act,” see Historia Commynes, Philippe de, 257n1



Compiègne: palace church at, 97, 106 Compostela, Santiago de (Spain), 166; as religious center, 151–55 passim, 166, 168, 169, 170, 173–74, 180; tomb of Saint James at, see James (the Great), Saint Confessions, The (Saint Augustine), 44, 200, 216 Congressus gallorum, 3–4, 16 Conques, Sainte Foy de (Abbey), 170, 181, 267n77 Constance, Queen (wife of Robert II), 238n42 Constantine I (the Great), 74, 202; Ana-stasis constructed by, 79, 80, 147 (see also Anastasis [Church of the Holy Sep­u lchre, Jerusalem)); and Christian im­perium, 6, 109; Donation of, 85; and “New Jerusalem,” 27, 28, 29; parallel­ism between Charlemagne and, 78, 81–83, 84, 86, 111, 148, 241n71; repre­sented in Charlemagne window, 109–111; as “seer,” 30 Constantinople, 80, 81, 82, 110, 235n15; -Jerusalem-Rome-Aachen axis, 80, 85, 89, 149 Conversation with Nicodemus, see Christ Cosmos: as “organized order,” 14 Creation, the, 123; and creationism, 26, 27, 28, 56 Cretin, Guillaume, 256n63 Crown: symbolism of, 69. See also Monarchy; Symbols and symbolism Crucifix, “weeping,” 19, 26, 31 Crucifixion, the, see Christ Cruciform semiosis, see Symbols and symbolism Dante Alighieri, 164, 215, 221 David, 27, 77, 82, 98, 153, 154 Davy, M.-M., 6 Death: acceptance of, 200, 216–219; Christ’s victory over, 123, 134–35, 151, 166, 203, 200; as metaphor, 124;

as tex­tualized life, 193. See also Passion story; Roland Denis, Saint, 7, 92 De rationali et ratione uti (Gerbert), 67 Descriptio qualiter Karolus Magnus…, 249n12 Dialectics of prediction, 3, 44, 46; Ger­ bert’s symbolic predication, 6; heroic self-predication, 151, 163, 194, 202; negative and affirmative (in Passion), 136; predication of insight, 55–58; Ro­land and, 147–52 passim, 159–60, 181–82, 185–201, 207–213 passim, 222 Directed vision, 54, 119, 165; agonistic narrative of, 48; historia as, 15, 19–24, 40; of Rodolphus, 23, 32; theosis and, 22 Disputatio, 188 Divine Comedy (Dante), 164, 221 Documentum, 56. See also Scripture Duby, Georges, 114 Durendal (sword), see Roland Durliat, Marcel, 177–78 Easter, 79, 86–87; and procession at Cen­tula, 120–21, 122–23 Egyptians (as oppressors), 202 Einhard (Frankish historian), 89, 90, 91, 92, 177, 184 Elect of God, see Franks, the Elijah, 203 “Emperor” (as title): religious significance of, 83 Ephesus, 149, 150, 151, 168, 180 Eriugena, John Scottus, xi, 7, 32, 44, 60, 67, 75, 105, 130, 133, 187, 190, 261n50; air-sunlight analogy of, 23; Aulea Sider­eae, 97–98, 102, 103; and concept of theosis, 12–13, 21–22, 37–38, 66, 68–69, 156, 216; De Divisione Naturae, chaps. 1 and 2 passim; Homily on the Pro­logue to John, 30, 36, 232n32; and “im­mutable motion,” 13, 37, 50; on Incar­nation, 11; metaphor employed by, 9, 66, 124, 131, 133, 151;


narrative prin­ciples of, 14, 42, 55, 166; philosoph­ical anthropology articulated by, 12, 56; and progression/procession and return, 25, 41, 56, 130; symbolic etymology/ system of, 30, 100, 113–14, 213; on Transfig­uration, 17–18 Ethiopians, 184. See also Saracens Euphemian (father of Alexis), 220 Eusebius, 27, 29, 30, 80 Evangelists: symbolic representation of, 60–61, 64, 93, 94, 100. See also Gospel(s) Evangelium Dei, 143–44. See also Gospel(s) Evurtius, Saint, 20, 21, 31; Vita Sancti Evurtii, 31, 32 Facundus, Saint, 152–53 Fall, the, 98, 124–25, 126, 149–50 Farnham, Fern, 181 Ferracutus (Saracen giant), 153–60, 163 Flamidianus (martyr), 260n28 Focillon, Henri, 113–14, 118 Folz, Robert, 79, 82 Foussard, Michel, 99 France: Oriflamme (official standard) of, 62; outbreak of heresy in, 43, 46; in re­ novatio of Roman Empire, 30; Twelve Peers of, 100, 109, 185, 186, 189, 193, 195, 209. See also Gaul; Orléans Franks, the, 1–2, 16, 70; in battle against Saracens, 184, 185, 188, 191–199, 210, 257n4; as Elect of God, 3–5, 30, 78, 97, 107, 146. See also Charlemagne; Gaul Frederick II (emperor), 106, 143 Froissart, Jean, 54, 257n1 Fulbert of Chartres, 124–125, 128, 162, 230n19 Fulrad, Abbot (of Saint Denis), 101 Gabriel (archangel), 86, 171, 173, 184, 205, 215, 227, 260n28 Galicia, 143–47 passim, 177, 181, 252n34. See also Spain Ganelon, 153, 160–61, 195–98, 209– 214, 222, 223, 227


Garsias (monk), 260n28 Gaul, 18; heresy in, 40; as microcosm of the world, 2, 5; “special” qualities of, 2, 3. See also France; Franks, the Geertz, Clifford, 15, 138 Gelduinus, Bernardus, 94 Geometric forms: symbolism of (in stained-glass windows), 112–114, 124. See also Metaphoric triangle Gerbert of Aurillac, see Sylvester II (pope) Gesta Synodi Aurelianensis, 238nn41, 42 Gilles, Saint, 112 Giselbertus, 48, 95 Godescalc, Bishop, 179–80, 181 Godescalc Psalter, 93–94, 96 Gold hoard (in basilica at Orléans), 20, 21, 31 Goldschmidt, Adolph, 125 Goldsmith work, see Romanesque art and literature Golgotha, 144, 167, 185, 192, 224, 226. See also Passion story Gospel(s), 3, 26–27, 142–43, 144, 150, 191, 217; Cambrai, 97; of John, 9, 11, 12, 17, 36, 130–131, 135, 140–43, 151, 155, 156, 191, 195, 213, 262n42; Lo­thair, 93–94, 95, 96; of Luke, 4, 12, 26, 202; of Mark, 11, 17; of Matthew, 11, 38, 155, 176, 223, 224, 263n45; Passion story in, 131, 160, 180, 203, 210, 263n45. See also Bible, the; Evangelists; Passion story; Scripture; Sermon on the End Gothic iconography, 103. See also Roman­esque art and literature Grandes Chroniques de France, Les (Viard, ed.), 142 Gregory of Nazianzen, Saint, 44, 232n28, 239nn48, 50 Gregory of Nyssa, 229n12, 239n50 Gregory I (the Great), Saint, 22 Grodecki, Louis, 118 Guide du Merin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle (Vielliard, ed.), 151, 169–



77 passim, 183–91 passim, 202, 210, 214, 222, 223, 236n23, 254n49 Guy of Amiens, 257n1 Hagia Soros (Constantinople), 85 Hakin (caliph), 147 “Haloing,” process of, 27 Hardison, 0. B., 79, 87 Hariulf (monk), 120, 121, 122 Harun al-Rashid, 72, 81, 82–83 Hearn, M. F., 8, 231n25 Hebrew Bible, see Bible, the Hebrew nation: Franks as successors to, 78, 107 Heitz, Carol, 119–120 Helena, Saint, 75, 78, 79, 81, 111, 143 Henry II (emperor), 10, 11, 12, 18, 37, 59, 60, 64, 243n83 Herbert (heretical monk), 41, 42, 46, 52–53, 55, 70 Heresy, 46, 58, 239n50; in Arras, 58, 71, 240n55; capital punishment for, 3, 41; dualist, 35, 186; Manichaean, 36, 42, 238n42; as menace, 18–20, 35, 36, 40, 45; at Orleans, 37–45 passim, 53–59 passim, 68, 197; populist, 42–43; and Revelation, connection between, 40, 46, 47, 54 Hermeneutics: agonistic, 37, 38, 39–40, 41; of the Logos, 10; re-creative, 12; Ro­dolphus’s view of, 11, 12–13, 42; of the sacred, 220, 221; selective, 42; sym­bolic, 8; of world-as-Word, 143, 145, 151, 155, 168 (see also Word, the) Herod Agrippa and Herod Antipas, 180 Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, 144 Historia(e): agonistic basis of, 37–39; agonistic hermeneutics of, 37, 39–40, 41; anagogy of, 14, 143, 145 (see also Anagogy); Charlemagne and, xiii, 103, 111, 144, 146; of Christ, 131, 134, 141, 142; and Church and Throne as “single text,” 19; and “commemorative act,” 176, 256n62; as directed vision, 15, 19–­31, 40, 165; emerging

concept of, xii, 8–9; il­ lustrated by ivory carving, 131; impor­ tance of, 193; invention as, 75–77; lan­guage of (as opposed to Scripture), 18; locus of, 174, 176; model of translatio and theosis in, 34 (see also Theosis; Translatio); as narrative, 14–15, 37, 83, 136, 144, 166, 167, 177, 183, 184; reca­pitulation of, 141; rhetoric of the image in, 128; Romanesque, drama of, 40 (see also Romanesque art and literature); Scripture’s relationship to, 13, 14–15, 18, 155; and symbolism, 9, 125, 136; vis-à-vis theologia, 8–9; and theoria, 130, 134, 141, 144, 150, 155, 156, 165, 184, 197, 206, 225; and theosis, 12 Historiae (Richer), 6, 7 Historiae sui temporis (Rodolphus), 7, 17–70, 78, 231n25 Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi (‘Turpin), xii, 88, 106, 118, 142–49, 150, 157–65 passim, 167, 171, 173, 177. See also Pseudo-Turpin Holy Land: Charlemagne’s relationship with, 81–83, 148; Frankish conquest of, Holy Land (continued) 72; New Alliance in, 78; symbolic transference of shrines from, 85, 88. See also Jerusalem; Palestine Holy Roman Empire, 66, 70 Holy Sepulchre, see Anastasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem) Holy Spirit, 17, 79, 87. See also Trinity, the Homily on the Prologue to John (Eriu­ gena), 30, 36, 252n32 Homo eruditus (homines eruditii), 37, 45, 55, 58, 79, 122; Christ as archetype of, 38; Paul as, 143; Rodolphus and concept of, 11, 40, 55, 56, 57; Roland as, 150, 155, 166, 199. See also Intellect Horace, 34 Horn (olifant): Bible imagery of, 185, 200–207, 263n45; of Roland, 160–67



passim, 173–75, 180, 185–190 passim, 193, 198, 216 passim, 220, 223, 224 “Hostile World” concept, 4, 16, 18, 36, 140, 151, 153, 202, 206 Hugh Capet, king of France, 1, 67 Hugh of Saint Victor, 213 Hungary: conversion of, 79 Illuminated manuscripts, see Roman­ esque art and literature Imitatio Christi, see Christ “Immutable motion,” see Eriugena, John Scottus Innocent I, Saint (pope), 220 Innocent II (pope), 170 Intellect: concept of, as essence of soul/ royal quality, 67–68, 69, 70, 71; Divine Essence appears through, 117; exercise of, as theophany, 67–68. See also Homo eruditus (homines eruditii) Invention: as historia, 77–78; as story, 78–92 Isaac, sacrifice of, 203, 206 Isidore of Seville, 2 Italy, 16; outbreak of heresy in, 43, 46 Ivory carvings, see Romanesque art and literature

cities,” 27. See also Anas­tasis (Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Je­rusalem); Holy Land Jesus Christ, see Christ Jews: Christianity viewed as threat by, 239n48; and the Covenant, 202; He­ brew historiae of, 10; and the Law, 3; in Orleans, 235n11; and reception of Rev­elation, 2–3; “set apart,” 6 Joachim of Flora, 264n53 Job, 200 John, Gospel of, see Gospel(s) John Scottus Eriugena, see Eriugena, John Scottus John the Baptist, 180, 203, 205 John the Evangelist, Saint, 17, 102, 123, 126–127, 128–130, 179, 203, 221, 252n34; linked to Ephesus, 149, 150, 166; and Revelation, 35, 36, 45, 46, 140, 151, 164, 171, 185, 263n45 Joinville, Jean, sire de, 257n1 Joseph, 133 Joshua, and Book of, 202, 206 Judas, 160–61, 195–96, 209, 210, 211, 222 Juvenal, 34

Jacob: theophanic vision of, 137–38 James (the Great), Saint, 145, 149, 150, 151, 153, 159, 171–174, 177, 180–181, 252n34; and Charle­magne, 111, 146– 149, 151, 152, 159, 166, 177; tomb of (at Compostela), 76, 109, 111, 146– 148, passim, 168, 173, 250n15 Jerome, Saint, 2, 203 Jerusalem, 77, 78; as “center of the earth,” 2, 6, 15, 82; Christ linked to, 22, 166; -Constantinople-RomeAachen axis, 78, 81, 83, 148; destruction and re­building of, 19, 26–30, 31, 33, 36, 46, 59, 147–48; discovery of sacred sites of, 78; Latin Kingdom of, 72; “New,” 23, 26, 27, 29, 35; -Orleans (symbolic) con­nection, 235n11; spiritualized, 26, 28, 32; as “two

Kantorowicz, Ernst, 27, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 235n12 Karl der Grosse (Braunfels and Schramm, eds.), 164 Kermode, Frank, 77 Knowledge (scientia), 37, 56. See also Homo eruditus (homines eruditii) Krautheimer, Richard, 84, 85 Lamb as symbol, see Symbols and symbolism Last Judgment, 48, 122–23, 126, 202 Last Supper, 137, 211 Lateran palace, see Rome Law, 3, 64, 150, 199, 263n45 Leo III (pope), 61, 62, 72, 104, 143 Leobrand (dean of Aix-la-Chapelle), 143, 144



Le Puy (medieval shrine), 177–79, 181, 82, 184, 204 Leutard (heretical prophet), 43 Liber Sancti Jacobi, 170, 254n49 Lisoius or Lisois (heretical monk), 41, 42, 46, 52–53, 55, 70 Liutharius (monk of Reichenau), 60, 243n84 Logocentrism, xi, 6, 33, 194 Logos: Charlemagne celebrated as, 103, 105, 106, 111; creation of, 25, 28; defined, 15; demonstration of principles of, 11; Di­vine (Logos) vs. human (logos), 47, 117, 125; Gauls’ special relationship with, 2; Gospel of John as expression of, 8; her­meneutics of, 9; human understanding of, 2, 38; importance of, 217; mainte­nance of order of, 37, 39; primacy of, in interpreting phenomenal reality, 25; proximity to, 149, 180–81, 184; relics and, 266n77; Revelation of Christ as, 18, 117, 180; Revelation (Book of) as text of, 179; Richer’s view of, 2, 5; Sec­ond Person of Trinity as, 64, 66 (see also Trinity, the); struggle of, with devil, 261n30; symbolism of, 17, 220; transi­tion from lexis to, 216; universality of, 5 Lothair Gospels, see Gospel(s) Louis, Saint, 109 Louis I (the Pious), 12, 246n26, 251n29 Luke, Gospel of, see Gospel(s) Luke, Saint, 203 Mahomet, 180 Maiestas Domini, see Christ Maiestas Karoli Magni, see Charlemagne Manichaean heresy, 36, 106, 246n43. See also Heresy Marenbon, John, 9 Mark, Gospel of, see Gospel(s) Marsile (Saracen king), 172, 198, 209, 212 Mary (Christian mother of pagan prince), 46, 147, 235n11 Marys, three, 87–88

Mary the Virgin, 82, 147, 159, 221, 255n53; shrines to, 168–69, 175, 177; as witness of Crucifixion, 112, 126–133, 257n65 Matthew, Gospel of, see Gospel(s) Maurikos (emperor), 85 Maurus, Hrabanus, 87, 93, 125 Maximus the Confessor, 7, 11, 14, 17, 18, 22, 231n25 Mayeul, Abbot, 231n25 Metaphoric triangle, 33, 62, 136–137, 183 Michael, Saint, 46, 171, 173, 177–183 passim, 204, 215, 222, 227, 261n30 Microcosmic theory(ies), 2, 11, 18, 30, 55, 176; “holistic,” 14–15, 19, 33, 43, 55, 38 Middle Ages, 27, 30, 35, 81, 102, 165; history and historical narrative in, 55, 89, 117, 150, 170, 175 , 216; symbolism in, 86, 116, 163, 202 Milo, Duke (father of Roland), 153 Mise-en-abyme, 92, 147; Roland and, 150–163 Moissac: Chronicle of, 182; theophanic tympanum at, 35, 47, 96, 100 Monarchy: Church and Throne, 3, 16, 19, 46, 93–94, 98–99, 144; divine, empire as form of, 6; Frankish foundation of, 3, 97, 144; French, Orléans as seat of, 19, 20, 29; Hebrew, renovatio of, 78, 97; and monarch as sacred being, 56, 67, 69; “royal ancestors” of Christ, 103; symbolism of (crown/ throne), 46, 60–61, 62–63, 75; threat to, 35 Moses, 134, 202–203, 207 Naimes, Duke (of Bavaria), 207, 209– 210, 211, 212, 213–214 Napoleon I, 92 Nativity, the, see Christ Nazarius (martyr), 260n28 Neoplatonism, see Christian Platonism New Alliance, see Christianity


New Jerusalem, see Jerusalem New Testament, see Bible, the; Gospel(s); Scripture Nicodemus, Conversation with, see Christ Nietzsche, Friedrich, 119, 124 Nota Emilienense, 167, 169, 172 Notre Dame de Chartres, 109. See also Chartres Nova Roma, see Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) Old Alliance, 78, 97 Old Testament, see Bible, the; Scripture Olifant, see Horn (olifant) Oliver, 100, 101, 104, 172, 183–201 passim, 209, 215, 216, 223, 227 Ong, Walter, 193 Orderic Vitalis, 257n1 Orléans: destruction and rebuilding of churches (renovatio) of, 19–32 passim, 39, 46, 176; Jerusalem (symbolic) con­ nection, 235n11; sacralization of, 15, 21, 26, 28, 31, 70; as seat of French monarchy, 19, 20, 28; suppression of heresy at, 37–46 passim, 51–59 passim, 69, 195 Otto I (emperor), 91 Otto II (emperor), 6, 7; apotheosis of, 60, ­67, 93, 104 Otto III (emperor) (mirabilia mundi), xii, 67–68, 73; “invention” of Charle­ magne’s tomb by, 72, 75–78, 81, 84, 86, 86, 93, 111 Ottonian tradition, 39, 97, 98, 100, 148 Otto of Lomello, 76–77, 78, 80, 88, 89, 101, 111 Pagans and paganism, 5, 39, 193, 197, 239n48; and reception of Revelation, ­3, 5; Roland vs., 159, 163, 170, 173, 191 (see also Saracens); writings of, placed above Scripture, 33 Palatine Chapel, see Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen)


Palestine, 109,110, 142. See also Holy Land Pantheon, the, 81. See also Rome Pantokrator (Christ-king), see Christ Parable, see Scripture Paraclete concept, 140 Paradise, concept of, 256n27 Paschal II (pope), 172 Passion story, 22, 26–27, 82, 150–63 pas­sim, 175, 180, 186, 191, 195, 197; in art and literature, 121–32, 196; Clermont-Ferrand text (La Passion du Christ), 26, 131–43, 145–49 passim, 157–58, 180, 196, 208, 265n67; as metaphor, 145–46, 152, 177, 183 (see also Roland); Quem Queritis and, 87; symbolism of, 107, 116, 117, 122 Patristic thought/tradition, 53, 56, 206 Paul, Saint, 135, 143, 210, 213, 249n7, 266n74 Peirce, C. S., 218 Pelc, Jerzy, 33 Pentecost, feast of, 72, 75, 78, 79, 98, 116; significance of, 86–87 Pepin, king of the Franks, 78 Peter, Saint, 17, 62, 149, 150, 166, 179– 80, 203; basilica of, 72 Peter the Deacon, 224 Peter the Venerable (abbot of Cluny), 239n50 Philosophical anthropology, 2, 12, 22, 28, 56 Platonism, see Christian Platonism Poland: conversion of, 245n12 Predication, see Dialectics of predication Primitivus, Saint, 152 Procession/progression and return, 12– 13, 28, 38, 41, 44, 49, 79, 117; Eriugena’s principle of, 24, 41, 56, 130; vital to concept of theosis, 34, 66 Prostitute, the, 45, 46. See also Antichrist Prudentius, 241n71 Psalms, 58, 62, 71–72, 152, 201, 217. See also Bible, the Psalter of Charles the Bald (portrait), 65



Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, xi, 7, 8, 14, 114, 231n25, 239nn48, 50 Pseudo-Turpin, 165–66, 183, 195, 198, 216. See also Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi Quem Queritis (medieval dialogue), 33, 87–88 Raphael (archangel), 260n28 Recapitulation, 144, 149, 151, 217; Christ as rhetorical figure of, 135–41, 263n74; of Passion, 137, 140, 142 Recidivism, 239n48 Reichenau, 67, 82 Reichenau miniature (of Otto II), 60– 71, 97, 103 Remy, Saint, 3, 4 Renaissance, the, 165 Rencesvals, 177, 185–86. See also Ronce­ vaux Renovatio: concept of, 27; of Constantin­ ian legacy, 72, 78, 83, 84; and “creation by destruction,” 27; of Hebrew mon­archy, 78, 97; of Orleans, 31 (see also Orleans); of Roman Empire, 30; of throne of Old Testament, 99 Resurrection, the, see Christ “Resurrection” of Charlemagne, 75. See also Charlemagne Revelation: building and beauty equated with, 27; Charlemagne and, 201–202; of Christ as Logos, 17, 117, 179; and her­esy, connection between, 41, 45, 46, 54; historia and, 9, 151; post-Passion, 137; reception of, 2–3, 4; “rhetoric of,” 27, 160; Roncevaux and, 168, 198, 200, 205; on Sinai, 199. See also Apocalypse; Theophany(ies) Revelation, Book of, 27, 46, 52, 64, 168, 177, 178, 179, 208, 261n30, 267n80; au­ thor of, 36, 140, 151, 171; basic theme of, 35, 45; and the trumpet, 185, 201–209 passim, 263n45. See also Bible, the Rheims, 1, 3, 5, 6–7, 34, 92, 103, 144 Richard of Rouen, Count, 41

Richer (monk of Saint-Remy), 1–8, 16, 67 Robert II (the Pious), king of the Franks, xii, 10–18 passim, 36, 48, 59, 67; as in­quisitor, 41–42, 53, 54, 70–71, 72; theosis of, 37, 57, 58, 69–70, 72, 73; as Throne (symbolic status of), 46, 60–61, 63–64 Rodolphus Glaber, 8–15, 17–19, 66, 76, 81, 149, 191; directed vision of, 21, 32; on heresy, 34, 35, 41–45, 47, 52–53, 67–­69; Historiae sui temporis, 7, 17– 66, 78, 237n25; and homo eruditus con­cept, 11, 40, 54, 55, 56; on Orléans, 20–21, 22–24, 26, 37–38, 176, 195 Roland, 12,100, 101, 104, 109, 118, 135, 147, 261n33; Chanson de (Oxford text), xii, 56, 66, 76, 86, 142, 151, 155– 59, 168–74 passim, 175–79, 182, 183, 188, 191, 195, 200, 202, 206, 209; death of, 155, 157, 155, 158, 162, 178– 79, 180, 184, 185, 196, 205–214 passim; horn of, see Horn (olifant); Passion of, 113, 148, 150–54, 162, 164, 177, 182, 197–98, 200; sword (Durendal) of, 158–67 pas­sim, 168, 172, 192, 194, 199, 215, 220, 223–226; tomb of (at Blaye), 173–76, 179 Roman Empire, 6, 10, 23, 25, 68, 109; reno­vatio of, 30; “Universal,” 93 Romanesque art and literature: Apoca­ lypse and heresy represented in, 35–36; architecture, 118 (see also Architecture, ecclesiastical); binary, vertical axis (in images), 104; characteristics of, 37, 38, 45, 54, 118; drama of, 40; goldsmith work, 95, 103, 113; Gothic iconography, 103; illuminated manuscripts, 35, 59, 64, 100, 125, 129, 132, 149, 162 (see also Reichenau miniature [of Otto II)); ivory carvings, xi, 87, 91, 95, 125–31, 135; narrative principle of, 54, 166, 183 (see also Biaxial narrative structure); por­


trait of Charles the Bald, 97–98, 100; public and monumental art, 58, 72, 108–­123, 171, 172; rhetorical basis and structure of, 16; Roland as innovation in, 166; sculpture, xii, 95–96, 102–104, 180; structures of meaning and space in, 113, 119, 130; symbolism in, 7, 8. See also Symbols and symbolism; Theophany Romanesque period: characteristics of, 5–6; “Christ-in-Majesty” theme of, 93 (see also Christ); defined, 230n14 Rome, 78, 85, 148, 150, 166, 180; Charlemagne in, 82; -Constantinople-­ Jerusalem-Aachen axis, 80, 83, 89, 150; Lateran palace at, 61, 86, 235n15; Pan­theon rededicated as Sancta Maria Ro­tunda, 85; “Second” (Nova Roma) of Charlemagne, see Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) Roncevaux, 112, 149, 151, 153, 160, 163, 212; as battle site, 169–71, 175, 182– 92, 194, 213, 215, 222; as passion site, 199–205 passim, 222, 224; as Rences­ vals, Ronsasvals, Rozaballes, Runcia­ vallis, 167, 169, 177, 185–87; as sacred site, 171–81, 184; symbolism of, 155, 213. See also Roland Ronsasvals, 167. See also Roncevaux Rouen: heresy in, 41, 53, 69 Royal Frankish Annals, 167, 168, 177, 188, 195 Rozaballes, 169, 177. See also Roncevaux Runciavallis, 177. See also Roncevaux Saint Denis, 48, 92, 97, 101, 111; Charlemagne window at, 111, 112, 142 Saint-Mary-the-Latin (Jerusalem), 81 Saint Michael’s monastery (Germany), 1 Saint-Michel, 171, 173 Saint Michel de Cize, 265n59 Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, 179 Saint Michel del Peril, 265n59 Saint-Peter-of-the-Virgins monastery (Or­léans), 19


Saint-Riquier, see Centula/Saint-Riquier Saint-Sernin sculpture (of Christ), 94–95 Salvation history, xi, 4, 21, 121, 122; Charlemagne legend and, 105, 146; Passion function in, 115, 149; Roland and, 154, 157 Salvation symbol of the Lamb, see Sym­ bols and symbolism Sancho, Count, of Erro, 170, 181 Sancho de la Rose, bishop of Pamplona, 170–71 Sancta Maria Rotunda, 85 San Paolo portrait, see Bible of San Paolo fuori le. Mura Santiago de Compostela, see Compostela, Santiago de (Spain) Saracens, the, 142, 177, 201, 210, 239n48; Charlemagne and, 62, 72, 81–83, 118, 143, 147–48, 154, 184, 199, 214; Holy Sepulchre destroyed by, 81, 147, 148, 236n11; rhetorical predication by, 182, 184–88, 189, 190–92, 199; Roland and, 118, 155– 64, 163, 165, 170–78 passim, 182, 183, 191–97 passim, 204, 209, 215, 216, 224, 225, 228 (see also Roland); as Satan/dragon, 196, 197, 204, 214, 261n30; Twelve Peers of, 185, 195 Saragossa, 195–96 Satan, 36, 47, 139, 196, 197, 202, 212; Christ’s victory over, 140, 154 Saul, 97 Schapiro, Meyer, 35–36, 39, 40, 45 Schiller, Gertrud, 203 “Sclavania,” conversion of, 245n12 Scottus Eriugena, see Eriugena, John Scot­ tus Scripture, 16, 80; analogized with world, 11, 24, 60; “architext” of, 188; Christ­a s-Word revealed through, 30; Christ and, 56–57, 153; Fulbert’s text equated with, 125; heterodox interpretation of, 34, 43, 53 (see also Heresy); language of (as opposed, to



historia), 17; as link be­tween historia and theologia, 8–9; as model for history writing, 1, 2, 3, 10, 28, 25, 33, 72, 77, 151, 178–79; parable of Wise and Foolish Virgins, 38, 54, 133, 155, 186, 196; relationship of, to historia, 8–9, 13, 14–15, 18, 151; rival hermeneutics of, 34, 43; selective her­meneutics of, 42; subtexts of, 24, 33, 53, 151; and “textualization,” (of Christ) 121, (of place) 180; and theoria, 151, 183, 195. See also Apocrypha; Bible, the; Gospel(s); Psalms; Revela­tion, Book of “Seer,” as term for God, 30–31 Septiform symbolism, see Symbols and symbolism Septuagint, the, 10. See also Bible, the Sermon on the End, 38–39, 136, 217. See also Gospel(s) Seurin, Saint, 173, 223 Sheldon-Williams, I. P., 12, 229nn9, 11, 233n35, 239n48 Sic et Non (Abelard), 188 Sinai, Mt., see Theophany(ies) Societas, idea of, 3–4, 5; betrayal of, 199, 211 Solomon, 70, 97, 103 Spain, 261n30; conquest and reconquest of, 109, 111, 114, 143–51 passim, 152, 153, 161, 171, 172, 181, 186; tomb of Saint James in, see James (the Great), Saint Speech: gift of, 81–82, 101; and spirit of truth, 44. See also Word, the “Spirit of Truth,” 44, 87 Stained glass (windows commemorating Charlemagne), see Charlemagne Stephen (heretical monk), 238n42. See also Herbert (heretical monk) Stephen I, king of Hungary, 245n12 Stephen V, pope, 246n26 Stone: as-pillow-motif, 154–55; sword and, 163, 165, 172, 177, 182, 223– 224, 226

Strasbourg: Charlemagne-in-Majesty at, 100 Suger, Abbot (of Saint Denis), 103, 112, 249n7 Sulpicius Severus, 111 Sword: of Roland (Durendal), see Roland; symbolism of, 194, 195 Sylvester I, Saint (pope), 6, 73, 78 Sylvester II (pope) (Gerbert of Aurillac), 1, 6–7, 67, 72, 73, 78, 241n71, 246n26 Symbols and symbolism, 6, 14, 22, 213; analogical, 21–22, 25, 30, 77, 100; architectural/geometric, 78–79, 82–83, 88, 90, 112–117, 123, 178; christological, 61, 64–67, 72, 75, 83, 88, 92–93, 102, 116, 118, 122, 163, 177, 196, 208; of color, 2, 68, (“whiteness”) 2, 17–18, 33, 44, 46; of crown/throne, 47, 54– 55, 57–58, 66; cruciform (semiosis), 62, 64–65, 117–31, 137–42 passim, 149, 154, 155, 159, 164, 166, 172, 173; for Evangelists, 64, 67, 90, 91, 100; of Ferracutus’s death wound, 158; of funerary tableau, 222–23; historia and, 8, 124, 138; of Holy Sepulchre (Anastasis), 75, 76, 78, 88; of horn, 192–93, 194, 196, 202–03, 223–­224 (see also Horn [olifant]); impor­tance of, 7; of Lamb, 34, 71, 203; of Last Supper, 137; vs. literal meaning, 26, 30; of Logos, 17, 220; of New Testa­ment (in Middle Ages), 202; number, 42, 195, 196, 216 (see also septiform, below); of Passion, 104, 110, 111, 117; principal Christian symbol, 118; sacred, at Roncevaux and Le Puy, 163, 179, 181, 208, 215; septiform, 64, 66–67, 117– 18, 120, 121, 122, 195, 222; of sword, 194, 195 (see also Roland); symbolic au­ thority of Charlemagne, 78–79, 81–82, 84, 93–94, 95, 97, 98; symbolic lan­g uage, 6–7, 8, 136, 206; symbolic status of King Robert, 53–55, 57–58; symbolic structure of society and the church, 56, 88, 94; symbolic


transfer of shrines, 85, 88; symbolic unity, 75; of symmetry, 11, 18, 103; of Terra, 60–62; of theoria, 130; translatio and, 23–24; of vine, 131–33; of whiteness, see of color, above Terra: personified figure of, 60, 62–64. See also Symbols and symbolism “Textualization,” 191, 193; of Christ, 131; of place, 176, 183 Theodolphus, 78 Theologia, 8–9, 47 Theophany(ies), 22–23, 26, 36, 39, 43, 66, 97, 98, 128, 136, 202; exercise of intel­lect as form of, 68–69; horn as precur­sor of, 203, 204, 206, 214; Jacob’s theo­ phanic vision, 154–55; psalm of (Exsurgat Deus), 71; settings of, 17, 148, 222; on Sinai, 202, 203, 204; and theophanic tympanums, 35, 48–55, 56, 57, 60, 90–91, 95, 121, 135, 145, 176 Theoria, 144, 188, 205; as “explanation” of story, 183; and historia, 130, 136, 143, 145, 147, 151, 155, 164, 173, 184, 195, 226; locus of, 170, 172; recapitula­ tion of, 137, 143; Revelation as context of, 201, 205; symbols of, 138 Theosis, 15; Augustinian concept of, 44, 57; biaxial narrative form and, 62; defined, 12, 22; and directed vision, 23; drama of, 58; Eriugena’s concept of, 12–13, 22–23, 51, 66, 67–68, 157, 216; function of, 29, 33, 90; man-asaudience and, 44; of monarchs, 39, 57, 58, 67–68, 70, 71, 96, 97, 98–99; narrative as, 12, 24–36, 67; nature of, 64–66, 70; Or­léans as setting for, 21; procession and return vital to concept of, 28, 66; pro­gress toward, 135; as rhetorical model, 39; of Roland, 147, 165, 172, 191; verti­cal dialectic created by, 52 Thierry (mourner for Roland), 257n65


Thietmar, bishop of Merseberg, 75 Throne, the, see Monarchy Titus (Roman emperor), 27 Tomb of the Virgin, Church of the, 85–86 Toulouse, 94 Tours, 35; Council of, 141 Transfiguration, the, see Christ Translatio, 15, 17, 27, 32, 34, 67, 215, 226; of Constantinian legacy, 72, 76, 83; dual dialectic of, 25; gestorum, 58; Hierosy­limitani, 30; imperii, 10; narrations, 215, 218; principle of, 10, 23–24, 149; Rotholandi, 214, 215 Translatio Sanguinis, 82, 110 Treachery, 161–63, 195–99, 204–08; apos­tasy and, 154 Troves, cathedral of, 118 Triangle, see Goemetric forms; Meta­ phoric triangle Trier, 243n84 Trinity, the, 12, 38, 66; denial of efficacy of, 56; Eriugena’s view of, 66–67; reali­zation of (at Pentecost), 78, 87; Second Person (Verbum) of, 64, 70, 87, 94, 131 (see also Logos); symbolism of, 8, 117; Third Person of (Holy Spirit), 17, 79, 87 Triune aesthetic, see Augmentative (or triune) aesthetic True Cross, the; in diadem of Charle­ magne, 90, 92, 110; Saint Helena’s dis­covery of, 75, 78 Trumpet, see Horn (olifant) Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, 103– 106, 143–45, 149, 151, 164, 181–88 passim, 194, 200–201, 206, 209, 212; death of, 170, 215, 216, 262n36. See also Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi; Pseudo­Turpin Turns Sancti Salvatoris (at Centula/ Saint-Riquier), 121, 123 Tympanums, theophanic, see Theo­ phany(ies)



Universal history, xii, 1, 4, 8 Valentinus (martyr), 260n28 Vance, Eugene, 209, 265n62 Vatican library, 90 Veil, the, 60, 61 Verbum (Second Person of Trinity), see Trinity Vertical dialectic, 12, 21, 39, 44, 47–48, 54, 64, 67, 104, 127–128, 129 Vezelay: Chronicle of, 172; theophanic tympanum at, 48 Vie de Saint Alexis, 57, 219–222, 225, 226 Vigny, Alfred de, 168 Vilgard (grammarian), 41, 46 Virgil, 34, 221 Vita Karoli (Einhard), 89, 165, 177–80 Vita Sancti Aegidii, 118, 249n12 Vita Sancti Evurtii, see Evurtius, Saint Vivian Bible frontispiece, 100 “Whiteness,” symbolism of, see Symbols and symbolism William of Orange, 12 William of Poitiers, 257n1 Winchcomb Psalter illumination, 127, 130. See also Romanesque art and liter­ature Wisdom (sapientia), 30, 37, 56; and Di­ vine Wisdom, 21–22, 29 Word, the, 7, 14, 34, 36, 99–100, 128, 136, 184, 194; accomplishment of, 88, 149; -as-deed, 218; symbols of, 92, 111; world as, 44, 69, 105, 138, 140, 147, 159, 162. See also Christ; Logos; Scripture; speech Zachariah, 203, 205 Zebedee, 179